No American poet has so swiftly and decisively transformed the course of poetry as Hart Crane. In his haunted, brief life, Crane fashioned a distinctively modern idiom that fused the ornate rhetoric of the Elizabethans, the ecstatic enigmas of Rimbaud, and the prophetic utterances and cosmic sympathy of Whitman, in a quest for wholeness and healing in what he called “the broken world.” White Buildings, perhaps the greatest debut volume in American poetry since Leaves of Grass, is but an exquisite prelude to Crane’s masterpiece The Bridge, his magnificent evocation of America from Columbus to the Jazz Age that countered the pessimism of Eliot’s The Waste Land and became a crucial influence on poets whose impact continues to this day.
This edition is the largest collection of Crane’s writings ever published. Gathered here are the complete poems and published prose, along with a generous selection of Crane’s letters, several of which have never before been published. In his letters Crane elucidates his aims as an artist and provides fascinating glosses on his poetry. His voluminous correspondence also offers an intriguing glimpse into his complicated personality, as well as his tempestuous relationships with family, lovers, and writers such as Allen Tate, Waldo Frank, Yvor Winters, Jean Toomer, Marianne Moore, E. E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, and Katherine Anne Porter. Several letters included here are published for the first time.
This landmark 850-page volume features a detailed and freshly-researched chronology of Crane’s life by editor Langdon Hammer, chair of the English Department at Yale University and a biographer of Crane, as well as extensive explanatory notes, and over fifty biographical sketches of Crane’s correspondents.
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