Stephen Vincent Benét

Easton Press Stephen Vincent Benét books

John Brown's Body - Library of Famous Editions - 1994

Franklin Library Stephen Vincent Benét books

John Brown's Body - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1976
Thirteen O'Clock Stories of Several Worlds - Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers - 1982
John Brown's Body - Pulitzer Prize Classics - 1986
John Brown's Body - Greatest Books of the World's Greatest Writers (imitation leather) - 1986

Stephen Vincent Benét biography

Stephen Vincent Benét (1898-1943), was an American poet and novelist, born in Bethlehem, Pa., and educated at Yale University. He was the brother of William Rose Benet. Stephen Vincent Benét's works are highly imaginative and show an absorbing interest in the American scene. Born on July 22, 1898, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Stephen Vincent Benét emerged as a prominent American poet, novelist, and short story writer whose works captured the spirit of his time. His literary career, characterized by versatility and a keen understanding of American history and culture, earned him acclaim and accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize. Benét's early exposure to literature was influenced by his family, particularly his older brother William Rose Benét, who himself became a distinguished poet and editor. Stephen Vincent Benét attended Yale University, where he developed his literary talents and won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition with his first book of poetry, Five Men and Pompey (1915), while still an undergraduate. While a student at Yale, he wrote two books of poetry, Five Men and Pompey (1915) and Young Adventure (1918).

World War I interrupted Benét's academic pursuits, and he served in the Army Medical Corps. His experiences during the war would later influence his writings, especially in works like John Brown's Body. After the war, he resumed his studies at Yale, completing his education and launching a career as a prolific and celebrated writer. In 1928, Benét published John Brown's Body, an epic narrative poem that won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1929. The poem, exploring the American Civil War and its impact on the nation, showcased Benét's ability to weave historical events into compelling and emotionally resonant storytelling. This monumental work established him as a major literary figure. Benét's talent extended beyond poetry, and he ventured into prose with his short stories and novels. The Devil and Daniel Webster (1936), a short story that would later become part of the collection Thirteen O'Clock (1937), demonstrated his skill in blending folklore, history, and moral themes. The story explores the consequences of selling one's soul to the devil and remains one of Benét's most celebrated works.

Among Benét's other works the volume of poetry Heavens and Earth (1920); the novels Young Peoples Pride (1922), Jean Huguenot (1923), and Spanish Bayonet (1926); John Brown's Body (1928), a narrative poem of the Civil War, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize; The Devil and Daniel Webster (1937), one of the best American short stories, later made into the motion picture All That Money Can Buy and into libretto for a folk opera with the original title; and Western Star (1943), an unfinished narrative poem. Stephen Vincent Benét was also noted for his radio dramas, which include Listen to the People. In 1938 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In addition to his literary achievements, Benét contributed to journalism, writing for magazines and newspapers. His versatility was evident in his ability to traverse different genres, from historical poetry to speculative fiction.

Tragically, Stephen Vincent Benét's life was cut short at the age of 44 when he died of a heart attack on March 13, 1943. Despite his relatively brief time on Earth, his impact on American literature endured. His posthumously published unfinished poem, "Western Star" (1943), further exemplified his ability to craft narratives that resonated with the American spirit. Stephen Vincent Benét's legacy lives on through his contributions to literature, which masterfully blended historical insight with imaginative storytelling. His exploration of the American experience, whether through poetry, short stories, or novels, continues to be studied and appreciated for its richness, depth, and enduring relevance.

John Brown's Body

One of the most widely read poems of our time, John Brown s Body is Stephen Vincent Benét's masterful retelling of the Civil War. A book of great energy and sweep, it swings into view the entire course of that terrible and decisive war, lighting up the lives of soldiers, leaders, and civilians, North and South, amidst the conflict. Generations of readers have found the book a compelling and moving experience.

John Brown called Old Brown of Osawatomie (1800-59) was an American abolitionist, born in Torrington, Connecticut. John Brown's family moved to Ohio when he was five years old. He acquired, early in life, the hatred of slavery which marked his subsequent career, his father having been actively hostile to the institution. John Brown initiated (1834) in Pennsylvania, where he was then living, a project among sympathetic abolitionists to educate young Negros. The next twenty years of his life were largely dedicated to the furtherance of this and similar abolitionist ventures, a course that entailed many sacrifices for himself and his large family. In 1855, he followed five of his sons to Kansas Territory, then a center of struggle between the antislavery and pro slavery forces. Under the leadership, the Brown boys became active participants in the fight against marauding pro slavery terrorists from Missouri, whose activities culminated in the murder of a number of abolitionists at Lawrence, Kansas. John Brown and his sons avenged this crime, on May 24, 1856, at Pottawatomie, killing five pro slavery adherents. This act and his success, in August, at Osawatomie, in withstanding a large party of attacking Missourians, made him nationally famous as an irreconcilable foe of slavery. 
Aided by increased financial support from the abolitionists in the northeastern States, John Brown began, in 1857, the start of a plan, which he had long entertained, to free the slaves by armed force. He secretly recruited a small band of supporters for this project, which included the establishment of a refuge for fugitive slaves in the mountains of Virginia. After several setbacks, he finally launched on the night of October 16, 1859, with a force of 18 men (including several of his sons), seizing the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Va., and winning control of the town. He made no attempt at offensive action, however, following this initial success, occupying instead, defensive positions within the arsenal. His force was surrounded by local militia, which was reinforced, on October 17, by a company of U.S. Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Ten of Browns men, including two of his sons, were killed in the ensuing battle, and he was wounded and forced to capitulate. He was arrested and charged with various crimes, including treason and murder. He distinguished himself during his trial, which took place before a Virginia court, by his eloquent defense of his efforts in behalf of his slaves. Convicted, he was hanged (December 2) at Charlestown, Va.. For many years after his death John Brown was generally regarded among abolitionists as a martyr to the cause of human freedom. He became the subject of a famous song, known generally by the first line as "John Brown’s body lies a-mouldring in the grave".

Stephen Vincent Benét quotes

"Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways."
"Truth is a hard deer to hunt. If you eat too much truth at once, you might die of the truth."
"Dreaming men are haunted men."
"Honesty is as rare as a man without self-pity."
"Books are not men and yet they are alive, they are man's memory and his aspiration, the link between his present and his past, the tools he builds with."

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