William Morton Payne, review, Dial

February 1, 1896, xx, 80


Payne (1858-1919), critic, teacher, translator, was Associate Editor of the Chicago Dial from 1892 to 1915. His short review may be considered as the official position of the Dial, later expanded upon by the magazine's owner, A. C. McClurg.

The Red Badge of Courage is a book that has been getting a good deal of belated praise within the past few weeks, but we cannot admit that much of it is deserved. There is almost no story to Mr. Crane's production, but merely an account, in rough-shod descriptive style, of the thoughts and feelings of a young soldier during his first days of active fighting. The author constructs for his central character a psychological history that is plausible, but hardly convincing. We do not know, nor does the writer, what it is that actually does go on in the mind of a man who is passing through his baptism of fire. It may be retorted that we do not know any more that Count Tolstoi is giving us the real thing in his war-stories, or 'Stendhal' in the Chartreuse de Parme, but the descriptions in these books at least seem inevitable while we are reading them, and Mr. Crane's descriptions do not.

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