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American Literature's Aesthetic Dimensions$
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Cindy Weinstein and Christopher Looby

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156172

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156172.001.0001

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Stephen Crane’s Refrain

Stephen Crane’s Refrain

(p.73) [3] Stephen Crane’s Refrain
American Literature's Aesthetic Dimensions

Max Cavitch

Columbia University Press

This chapter calls to account the sentiment of liberated and liberating free-verse artistry through a reading of Stephen Crane's poetry that combines formal analysis (a counting or measurement) and ethical reckoning (a characterization of the lyric subject). More simply put, it is an effort to interpret, in the work of a very untraditional poet, his use of a very traditional poetic device—the refrain—to measure or mark out a timely sense of a depersonalized aesthetics. Timely, that is, not in terms of present critical anxieties about the aesthetic, but rather in terms of a late-nineteenth-century preoccupation, in literature, science, philosophy, and beyond, with the phenomenon of repetition, which is, of course, the precondition for any type of measurement and for any concept of the personal.

Keywords:   Stephen Crane, poets, poetry, formal analysis, ethical reckoning, depersonalized aesthetics, repetition, free verse

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