Reply of D. Appleton & Co. to McClurg's Review in Dial

May 1, 1896, XX, 263


This letter was probably written by Ripley Hitchcock (1857-1918), a journalist, critic, and historian who contracted to publish The Red Badge of Courage. His letter mentions the reviews of the New York Times and the Philadelphia Press.

It is with a certain hesitation that we write you to correct the author of a somewhat bitter letter published in your journal for April 16, for we recognize the signature as that of a gallant soldier, as well as a student of literature. But as the author of that letter labors under several misapprehensions, we think that he will be glad to learn the facts.

The Red Badge of Courage was read and accepted by us in December, 1894, and, in book form, it was first published in this country in October, 1895. Although the book was copyrighted in England at the same time, it was not formally published there for two months. Meantime the American journals had reviewed it and had begun an almost universal chorus of eulogy. October 19, 1895, the New York Times devoted a column and a half to a strong review of 'this remarkable book.' On October 13, the Philadelphia Press compared Mr. Crane and Bret Harte, not to the disadvantage of the former. On October 26, the New York Mail and Express, in one of several notices, said, 'The author has more than talent there is genius in the book.' On October 26, the Boston Transcript, in speaking of 'this tremendous grasping of the glory and carnage of war,' added at the close of a long and enthusiastic review, 'The book forces upon the reader the conviction of what fighting reany means.' Other favorable reviews appeared in October issues of the following American newspapers: New York Herald, Brooklyn Eagle, Cleveland World, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Boston Daily Advertiser, New York World, St. Paul Globe, New York Commercial Advertiser, Kansas City Joumal, Chicago Evening Post, Boston Courier, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Boston Beacon, Hartford Times, Sioux City Times, New Haven Leader, and Minneapolis Journal, and to these names, taken almost at random, we might add many others. These journals reviewed The Red Badge favorably in October, and others, including weeklies like The Critic and The Outlook, followed in November with emphatic recognition of the strength and high talent shown in the book.

It was not until the end of November, two months after publication here, that the first reviews appeared in England. By that time American reviewers from Maine to California had 'greeted' the book with the highest 'encomiums.' The English 'encomiums' became specially marked in late December, January and February.

We state these facts in view of your correspondent's remarks that 'So far, at least, the American papers have said very little about the merits or demerits of the book,' and, 'The book has very recently been reprinted in America,' and, 'Respect for our own people should have prevented its issue in this country.' 'Our country' was the first to recognize Mr. Crane's genius, and our people have read his book so eagerly that it continues to be the most popular work of fiction in the market, and it has been the one most talked of and written about since October last.

A glance at the back of the Red Badge title-page would have shown that the book could not have been 'first published' in England and 'reprinted' here, while the literary departments of journals throughout our country, and the opinions of American men of letters like Mr. Howells and Mr. Hamlin Garland, have proved, happily, that Americans are ready to recognize American talent, and that, pace your correspondent, a prophet is not without honor even in his own country.

As to other points, against the opinion of the gallant veteran who criticizes the book might be put the opinions of other veterans who have found only words of praise.

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