The Monster (novella)
The Monster is an 1898 novella by American author Stephen Crane. The story takes place in the small, fictional town of Whilomville, New York. Crane took inspiration from several local men who were similarly disfigured. The novellas is now considered one of Crane’s best works.
About The Monster (novella) in brief
The Monster is an 1898 novella by American author Stephen Crane. The story takes place in the small, fictional town of Whilomville, New York. It is thought that Crane took inspiration from several local men who were similarly disfigured. Modern critics have made numerous connections between the story and the 1892 lynching in Port Jervis of an African-American man named Robert Lewis. The Monster was Crane’s first story to feature the fictional town. It would eventually serve as the setting of 14 stories, 13 of which would appear in the 1900 anthology Whillomville Stories. The novellas is now considered one of Crane’s best works. It reflects upon the 19th-century social divide and ethnic tensions in America. The fictional town is used in 14 other Crane stories, including the novel The Red Badge of Courage and the short story The Monster and Other Stories, which was published in 1894 and 1895, respectively. In August of that year, Crane and Cora were injured in a carriage accident while visiting friend Harold Frederic and his mistress Kate Lyon in Homefield, Kenley. After a week of recuperation, they followed the couple on vacation to Ireland, where Crane finished the story. Crane later remarked that he wrote The Monster “under the spur of great need” as he desperately required funds. In Black Frankenstein: The Making of an American Metaphor, author Elizabeth Young theorized that Crane may also have been inspired by popular freak show attractions such as Zip the Pinhead, whose real name was William Henry Johnson, and Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man.
Although Crane and his mother relocated to Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1880, until 1896 he frequently stayed with his older brother William Howe Crane. In mid-1890, a few men together with the chief of police who attempted to intervene in the lynching of Robert Lewis, allegedly assaulting a local woman, dragged him through the town, and hanged him from a tree. On June 2, 1892, Lewis was set upon by several hundred white men who dragged him to the jail, beat him, and threw him through a window. Although there were no accounts of the lynchings, both William Howe and Stephen Crane were present in the way the men carried out the act. Although a few of the men involved with the police were present, both were not present at the time of Lewis’ death. Crane admitted to his publishers that he was anxious to ensure that the residents of his previous hometown did not recognize themselves in the fictional Whiloomville. He later said that he wanted to make sure that the town would not recognize himself in the story, and that he had written it in a more exact and less dramatic style than two of his other major works. He also admitted that he did not want the story to be published in the United States because he was running out of money. It was first published in Harper’s Magazine in August 1898. A year later, it was included in The Monster And Other Stories—the last collection of Crane’s work.