Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heights of imagery: Stephen Crane

It is impossible to avoid being blown away (no pun intended; seriously) by the vivid imagery that Stephen Crane leverages in The Red Badge of Courage. Like many of you, I haven't read this classic work since high school, though recently I began jointly reading it and discussing it with my daughters.

How's this for powerful realism?

The corpse was dressed in a uniform that once had been blue, but was now faded to a melancholy shade of green. The eyes, staring at the youth, had changed to the dull hue to be seen on the side of a dead fish. The mouth was open. Its red had changed to an appalling yellow. Over the gray skin of the face ran little ants. One was trundling some sort of bundle along the upper lip. [Chapter VII]
And this:

The trees began softly to sing a hymn of twilight. The sun sank until slanted bronze rays struck the forest. There was a lull in the noise of insects as if they had bowed their beaks and were making a devotional pause. There was silence save for the chanted chorus of the trees [Chapter VIII]
More to follow in the coming weeks.