Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What do you say, we contend for the truth of it

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumours.

Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
Opening sentences -
The Red Badge of Courage
D. Appleton & Company, 1895

The Red Badge of Courage
  and Other Stories
Gary Scharnhorst, editor
Penguin Books, 2005


  1. The power of Crane's first two sentences has not been felt by these bones since high school, when we read the Red Badge in an English class. Their impact is stronger on me now. I’m pleased to see you post them.

    The economy of means via which he accomplishes the atmospheric setting, the evolution of changing light, the revelation of masculine forces gathering their consciousness and the immanence of action - in so few phrases - is breathtaking. I cannot imagine the satisfaction which might have resulted from being able to create so much with so little. Would that I could.

    Do you remember Gilbert Highet's radio script, "The First Few Words," printed in the collection Talents & Geniuses?

  2. Unhappily, I know about Highet's broadcasts, without I having heard them. But his "Poets in a Landscape" (1957, recently republished by New York Review Books) on the Latin poets, is a treasure and has deepened my understanding of Horace, in particular. Obviously, this book pertains directly to the posting immediately following. I appreciate that you stop short of endorsing this "illustrated" presentation of the Crane text; but I reason that the application of imagery is a form of critical appraisal, not a literal translation.

    Thank you for the information of your remarks.