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The Presence of Hart Crane in Samuel R. Delany’s ‘Atlantis: Model 1924’

Laura Michiels

Pages 27 - 45


Approximately thirty-five years after he first read Hart Crane’s work, African American science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany wrote a story in which he described a fictitious encounter between his father and the poet, entitled ‘Atlantis: Model 1924’. The following article offers a detailed study of Crane’s presence in Delany’s novella. I argue that Delany seeks to mimic Crane’s intention to present “a synthesis of America” in his collection of poems titled ‘The Bridge’ (1930), a sequence that attempted to bridge between a wide variety of cultures and historical periods (qtd. in Edelman 179). Delany adds to his predecessor’s audacious venture: he supplements it with fragments of African American history and develops a chain of literary connections revolving around Hart Crane. The first part of my paper explores the bridges between African American and white American culture that are established in the narrative. In the second and final part, I explore how Delany incorporates his predecessor’s source material and poems, as well as other tributes to Crane, into his novella. As its title indicates, ‘Atlantis: Model 1924’ evinces its creator’s views on questions of (poetic) origins and originality.


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