Stephen Crane may be considered the forerunner of the modern American writer. Youthful ardor, rebellion against the middle class, bravado mixed with cynicism -- all that we associate with Hemingway. Fitzgerald and Wolfe were incarnated in this late 19th century figure, famous at twenty-four, dead four years later, the author of The Red Badge of Courage, that totally imaginary and classic novel of the Civil War. His life, as Professor Stallman comprehensively demonstrates in a striking and definitive biography, was based on a code of personal integirty that had little to do with the Puritan outlook of Melville or Hawthorne, or the strict Methodist home of his clergyman father. Indeed, the conflict of generations, so fashionable now, seems to have been the compelling factor behind Crane's turbulent life, from his early experiences with red light districts (epitomized in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets) to his bizarre, ill-fated marriage to a ""woman with a past."" His rise in the literary world was meteoric but rarely without attendant hardships. This milieu is given an exacting and panoramic evocation by Stallman, and the story of Crane's various and complicated relations with Conrad, James, Wells, Howells, and Hamlin Garland is one of the most interesting and valuable sections in the book. Stallman's scholarship is often so dense and painstaking that Crane's colorful personality doesn't always emerge. Nevertheless, the essential portrait is here at last.