Hart Crane’s lyrics abound with transient figures who often doubt their intelligibility or viability as persons, and his letters reflect a significant anxiety about his own ability to communicate the problems he experienced in being and remaining intelligible to others. Against that background, this article offers a reading of Crane’s transient figures as linguistic performances of such doubtful and tenuous existences. In this, the article puts Crane in dialogue with one of his most admired and mimicked contemporaries, Charlie Chaplin, as well as with theories of transient sociability from language philosophy, urban sociology, and modernist studies.

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