• This paper derives from an M.A. dissertation on Stephen Crane (“Reading ‘The Monster’,” Brown University, 1989). It examines the critical reception of Stephen Crane’s story ‘The Monster,’ with a special focus on the issue of racial representation and on the way authorial intentions bearing on this issue are constructed by critics. The critical approach expands narratological analysis in the direction of the sociology of literature, in this case through reception aesthetics. Focusing on racial representations and attitudes, the paper upholds the relevance of authorial intention as a critical concept, understanding criticism as a specific discursive discipline or “language game,” on the basis of the continual use critics make of this concept in order to make sense of the works they read. At the same time, the limits of such intentions are shown to be ideologically determined in the critical act. Interpretation emerges, therefore, as an interactive practice which is often blind to the discursive conventions that enable it.