The Open Boat
By Stephen Crane
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"The Open Boat" is a short story by American author Stephen Crane (1871–1900). First published in 1897, it was based on Crane's experience of surviving a shipwreck off the coast of Florida earlier that year while traveling to Cuba to work as a newspaper correspondent. Crane was stranded at sea for thirty hours when his ship, the SS Commodore, sank after hitting a sandbar. He and three other men were forced to navigate their way to shore in a small boat; one of the men, an oiler named Billie Higgins, drowned after the boat overturned. Crane's personal account of the shipwreck and the men's survival, titled "Stephen Crane's Own Story", was first published a few days after his rescue.
Crane subsequently adapted his report into narrative form, and the resulting short story "The Open Boat" was published in Scribner's Magazine. The story is told from the point of view of an anonymous correspondent, Crane's fictional doppelgänger, and the action closely resembles the author's experiences after the shipwreck. A volume titled The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure was published in the United States in 1898; an edition entitled The Open Boat and Other Stories was published simultaneously in England. Praised for its innovation by contemporary critics, the story is considered an exemplary work of literary Naturalism, and is one of the most frequently discussed works in Crane's canon. It is notable for its use of imagery, irony, symbolism, and the exploration of such themes as survival, solidarity, and the conflict between man and nature. H. G. Wells considered "The Open Boat" to be "beyond all question, the crown of all [Crane's] work".
Stephen Crane (1871-1900) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and poet who is often called the first modern American writer. Crane was a correspondent in the Greek-Turkish War and the Spanish American War, penning numerous articles, war reports and sketches. In addition to six novels, Crane wrote over a hundred short stories including "The Blue Hotel," "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky," and "The Open Boat."