Published in 1899, just a year before his death, War Is Kind by Stephen Crane evokes again the dark imagery of war which made his fortune in The Red Badge Of Courage. Unlike that book, this collection leaves the battlefield itself behind to explore the damage war does to people’s hearts and minds. Reeking of dashed hopes, simultaneously sympathetic with the victims of war and cynical about the purposes of war, Crane implicitly criticizes the image of the romantic hero and asks if Love can survive. The poetic voice is one of an old and wearied soul, stark and disillusioned, which is all the more intriguing since Crane was dead before he reached his 30th birthday. His work calls to mind the Beat Poets of the mid 20th century in its powerful use of language and bleak idiomatic landscape. It is poetry on the cusp of the fin de siècle; echoing the passing age and presaging the newborn century.
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