From Memorial Day's beginning: The Red Badge of Courage, the Book of the Week
May 28, 2019
This week with Memorial Day we are choosing a book from the time that Memorial Day was first celebrated back in 1868 (it was originally Decoration Day) with The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, as the Book of the Week.
The Red Badge of Courage is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane (1871–1900). Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound, a "red badge of courage," to counteract his cowardice. When his regiment once again faces the enemy, Henry acts as standard-bearer.Although Crane was born after the war, and had not at the time experienced battle first-hand, the novel is known for its realism. He began writing what would become his second novel in 1893, using various contemporary and written accounts (such as those published previously by Century Magazine) as inspiration. It is believed that he based the fictional battle on that of Chancellorsville; he may also have interviewed veterans of the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the Orange Blossoms. Initially shortened and serialized in newspapers in December 1894, the novel was published in full in October 1895. A longer version of the work, based on Crane's original manuscript, was published in 1982.
The Red Badge Of Courage has long been considered the first great 'modern' novel of war by an American the first novel of literary distinction to present war without heroics and this in a spirit of total irony and skepticism.
About the Author
American author Stephen Crane began writing early in life, and was already a published author by the age of sixteen. Among Crane s best known works are Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, which is considered to be the first literary work in the early American tradition of Naturalism, a literary movement marked by detailed realism and the acknowledgement of social conditions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and The Red Badge of Courage, which was influenced by his own experiences in military school and personal contact with Civil-War veterans. Crane died in 1900 at the age twenty-eight of tuberculosis, but had a significant and lasting impact on twentieth-century literature, influencing early modernist writers such as Ernest Hemingway.
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