Gaze toward paradise : Hart Crane and the poetry of quest
Hart Crane's poetry has always been the subject of widely differing views. In recent years, after a long period of neglect, there has been an attempt to find a new sense of the poetry's meaning and value. There have been notable biographical and contextual works by Paul Marian (2000) and Paul Giles (1986) as well as provocative studies which dwell upon Crane's sexuality, but there is still scope for a work that concentrates in detail upon Crane's themes of quest and the inspirational importance of the female 'other' he pursues. This thesis seeks to develop the tradition of close reading of Crane established by R.W.B. Lewis (1967) and Sherman Paul (1972). Where it differs from these excellent studies is in the emphasis laid upon the theme of quest and, in particular, the stress on the interplay between those different impulses which form the basis of Crane's finest work. The thesis tracks Hart Crane’s gaze toward some idea of betterment, the other side of which is Hell. It concentrates mainly, but not entirely, on Crane's longer poems in the belief that in these works his major successes are found. After an introduction which explains the aim and approach of the thesis, what follows are studies of the poems. Chapter one examines 'For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen,’ while chapter two explores 'Voyages.' Chapter three is the first of four chapters upon Crane's major achievement, The Bridge: it introduces the poem and examines the first two sections. The fourth, fifth and sixth chapters follow Crane on his journey through the poem. The thesis is brought to a conclusion in a coda which argues that the difficulties associated with reading Crane should be re-assessed.