Maggie : A Girl of the Streets and Other Tales of New York, Paperback

Maggie : A Girl of the Streets and Other Tales of New York Paperback

Edited by Larzer Ziff

2 out of 5 (1 rating)


This unflinching portrayal of the squalor and brutality of New York life produced a scandal when it was published in 1893.

Crane's novel tells the story of Maggie Johnson, a young woman who, seduced by her brother's friend and then disowned by her family, turns to prostitution.

More than the tale of a young woman's tragic fall, this is a powerful exploration of the destructive forces underlying urban society and human nature.

Also included here is "George's Mother", along with eleven other tales and sketches of New York writers.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272 pages, facsimiles
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780140437973



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I must confess, I come to this review with a heavy heart. I’ve wanted to read <I><B>Maggie: A Girl of the Streets</B></I> for years — and have had this edition on my bookshelves for as long. Moreover, once I finally read a bit about Crane’s background and early death (at the age of 29), I wanted to read — and appreciate — it even more.<br/><br/>Perhaps I err. Perhaps I just don’t get it. Perhaps Crane’s naturalism is simply over my head—even if Emile Zola’s never was. If so, I apologize — and you can disregard this review.<br/><br/>I read <I><B>Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.</B></I> I read "The Monster"…"The Blue Hotel"…"The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky"…"The Open Boat." And I just don’t get all of the applause.<br/><br/>For starters, I found Crane’s transcription of his characters’ Irish Brogue (if that’s what it was) in Maggie virtually unreadable — at the very least, annoying. In this, I’ll take my cue from Erskine Caldwell who insisted that the rhythm of a given character’s speech should be sufficient to convey to the reader a sense of ‘foreignness’ — rather than resorting to a perversion of every last syllable, to dropping consonants, and to repeating senseless phrases. In any case, I feel that less is more — and Crane had too much of ‘more’ and too little of ‘less.’<br/><br/>Add to that, Crane’s odd ear for adverbs. As Twain once famously said (in order to dissuade the use of them entirely), “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” I give you three — all from "The Blue Hotel" — from among the dozens I found in this collection of short stories and novellas (the italics are mine for emphasis):<br/><br/>(from p. 138) “The cowboy, Scully and the Easterner burst into a cheer that was like a chorus of triumphant soldiery, but before its conclusion the Swede had scuffled <I>agilely</I> to his feet and come in berserk abandon at his foe.”<br/><br/>(from p. 145) “The Swede had grasped the gambler <I>frenziedly</I> at the throat, and was dragging him from his chair.”<br/><br/>(from p. 147) “’Johnnie,’ said the cowboy blankly. There was a moment of silence, and then he said <I>robustly:</I> “Why, no. The game was only for fun.”<br/><br/>If I’m being too captious in citing these examples, I beg your forgiveness — and ask that you read the stories yourself, then pass judgment on me rather than on Crane.<br/><br/>In any case, I will certainly read <I><B>The Red Badge of Courage</B></I> before I form any definitive opinion of this author’s writing. That’s the very least I can render to a man of Crane’s reputation.<br/><br/>RRB<br/>07/30/13<br/>Brooklyn, NY<br/>