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Although Crane is most celebrated for "The Red Badge of Courage," some would argue that his greatest accomplishments lie in the realm of the short story. His two most famous forays in this genre are "The Open Boat" and "The Blue Hotel." In the former, he offers a sobering account of his own experience in surviving the sinking of a steamship off the coast of Florida, and we see here a far more disciplined and re-strained form of writing than was true of his war novel. Yet Crane succeeds even more powerfully in evoking the contest between puny humans and a ferocious, impersonal environment, endowing this vir-tually mute battle with a kind of largeness of soul that is very moving. The second story comes to life in a fierce Nebraska winter setting, and it constitutes one of Crane's bravura pieces about the mission of art: to depict the violent vagaries of human behavior under intense stress. Crane is reflecting on his own medium as well—the explosive power of words. A Crane coda can be seen in his astonishing rendition of Americana in "The Monster," a grisly text that turns yesteryear into nightmare.
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