Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York


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A wind of early autumn raised yellow dust from cobbles and swirled it against an hundred windows.

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Long streamers of garments fluttered from fire-escapes. In all unhandy places there were buckets, brooms, rags and bottles. The building quivered and creaked from the weight of humanity stamping about in its bowels. Not exactly inviting, eh? The tenement is overpopulated, and children are ignored, uncared for, and abused. The building is coated with filth, while strange odors swirl in the air.


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The reference to "bowels" assures us that the dwellers of this tenement are living amid excrement and foulness. This is as slummy as it gets. But if Crane is invested in showing poverty in all its unrestrained glory—seems like a cool enough thing to do—he's also dabbling in pretty negative stereotypes. How so?


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As she walks from the theater district to the river, the imagery and the descriptions of her ten potential clients rehearse her deterioration and eventual death. The "blurred radiance" of the "electric lights" and the "roar of conversation" of theatergoers are replaced, by the end of the chapter, with "a deathly black hue" of the river and a final "silence," as her clients descend in respectability from the "tall young man" in "evening dress" to the "huge fat man in torn and greasy garments" pp. Among the more than three hundred variants between the and versions of Maggie, the most significant revisions made by Crane occur in the ending of chapter He revised wording and deleted the paragraph describing the "huge fat man in torn and greasy garments.

She went into the blackness of the final block.

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Stories

The shutters of the tall buildings were closed like grim lips. The structures seemed to have eyes that looked over her, beyond her, at other things. Afar off the lights of the avenues glittered as if from an impossible distance. Street car bells jingled with a sound of merriment. When almost to the river the girl saw a great figure.

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On going forward she perceived it to be a huge fat man in torn and greasy garments. His grey hair straggled down over his forehead. His small, bleared eyes, sparkling from amidst great rolls of red fat, swept eagerly over the girl's upturned face. He laughed, his brown, disordered teeth gleaming under a grey, grizzled moustache from which beer-drops dripped. His whole body gently quivered and shook like that of a dead jelly fish. Chuckling and leering, he followed the girl of the crimson legions. At their feet the river appeared a deathly black hue.

Some hidden factory sent up a yellow glare, that lit for a moment the waters lapping oilily against timbers.

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets

The varied sounds of life, made joyous by distance and seeming unapproachableness, came faintly and died away to a silence. The structures seemed to have eyes that looked over them, beyond them, at other things. Street-car bells jingled with a sound of merriment. At the feet of the tall buildings appeared the deathly black hue of the river. Though Crane is not explicit about whether the fat man kills Maggie or she commits suicide, that she dies is clear. In the next chapter, Pete, the "aristocratic person" p.

I'll fergive her! Although the novel emphasizes a Darwinian struggle for the survival of the fittest in a society in which family and church are meaningless institutions, Crane's use of irony throughout keeps the story from devolving into the pure naturalism of Zola or the cheap melodrama of countless stories of innocent girls seduced and ruined by villains. Repeatedly, characters shield themselves from reality by creating hypocritical moral codes that supposedly pass as middle-class values.

Given Crane's unrelenting depiction of a brutal world, it is not surprising that the book went practically unnoticed. Crane later recalled that its lack of recognition was his "first great disappointment": "I remember how I looked forward to its publication, and pictured the sensation I thought it would make. It fell flat. Although Crane sent out copies for review and inscribed others to prominent people, only two reviews are known to have been printed in , one in Crane's hometown newspaper the Port Jervis Union and one by his mentor Hamlin Garland in the crusading reform magazine the Arena.

It is only a fragment. It is typical only of the worst elements of the alley. The author should delineate the families living on the next street, who live lives of heroic purity and hopeless hardship" Weatherford, p. Similarly, John D. Barry, editor of Forum magazine, privately told Crane that though he did "really believe that the lesson of your story is good.

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other New York Writings

There must be moderation even in well-doing; excess of enthusiasm in reform is apt to be dangerous" Wertheim and Sorrentino, The Correspondence of Stephen Crane, p. Compounding the problem with the sale of the book would have been its high fifty-cent price at a time when cheaply produced books by unknown authors were selling on newsstands for as little as a dime. The only known copies sold were bought by a few of Crane's close friends at a party. Three years later the fate of Maggie was to change dramatically.

Capitalizing on Crane's fame, Ripley Hitchcock, literary adviser to his publisher, D.

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Stories Audiobook by Stephen Crane

Appleton and Company, wanted to republish Maggie and convinced Crane to revise it to eliminate objectionable passages. For several weeks in early , as he wrote Hitchcock, Crane "dispensed with a goodly number of damns" and "the words which hurt" until "the book [wore] quite a new aspect from very slight omissions" Wertheim and Sorrentino, The Correspondence of Stephen Crane, pp. A collation of the and texts, however, reveals that the "very slight omissions" were actually more than three hundred variants between the two versions.

For example, the cursing and blasphemy in the version are deleted or replaced with such wording as "h—l," "d—n," and "gee. The numerous changes softened the language and made it less offensive. By far, however, the major revisions occur in chapter 17—the most important being the deletion of the penultimate paragraph, in which Maggie is followed by the fat, greasy man whose body "shook like that of a dead jelly fish" p. Crane found the revision process so exhausting that he wrote to Hitchcock: "The proofs make me ill. The application of the Appleton house style, however, did more than just correct typographical errors and follow British orthography; in some cases it diluted meaning and tone.

Crane was eager to make Maggie more marketable in order to profit from the success of The Red Badge of Courage because he feared that whatever he subsequently wrote would constantly be compared to "the damned 'Red Badge'" p.

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    Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York
    Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York
    Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York
    Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York
    Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Writings About New York

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