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The House Behind the Cedars

The author has succeeded in producing an interesting and even fascinating novel. After you start you do not wish to be disturbed. In great part this is due to the admirably lucid, elegant and natural style in which it is written. No mental gymnastics are required on the part of the reader-a consummation at all times devoutly to be wished. The same may be said of the characters and the plot. The number of the former is not large, but each one is marked with a clear-cut and striking individuality. Whenever you meet them you at once recognize them. Especially is this true of the heroine, an exceedingly attractive and charming creature, almost absolutely flawless, save for the one "dammed spot,"-she is remotely tainted with negro blood. Whether there are many "Renas" in the world we do not know; we can only say we wish there were thousands of them. The world would be distinctly better, taint and all. Herein lies the chief interest of the story as also its chief value as a contribution to the great problem of race mixing, which agitates and will continue to agitate the south, where the scene of the story is laid. As we become acquainted with and contemplate the character of this daughter of mixed blood, race prejudices are not overthrown. They are dissolved. Justice, sympathy, admiration, even compelled. They are unconsciously and voluntarily accorded. No doubt the problem is a complex one and much may be said on both sides. No one can impartially read this book without arriving at the three-fold conclusion: First, that nobility of character is not the exclusive attribute of any particular race or races, but may be and is the possession of all; secondly, that the only true and just judgment is that which is based upon the individual; and thirdly, that human brotherhood is not a theory but a fact.

Mr. Chesnutt is to be congratulated upon having produced not only an absorbing story, but one which is a valuable contribution to the evolution and progress of the great human family.

Anon. Rev. of The House Behind the Cedars "Book Reviews." Peoria Evening Star. 27 Nov. 1900: 10.