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The House Behind the Cedars

... Mr. Charles W. Chesnutt is not the first man to write strongly and impressively of racial prejudices, but he is one of the first to write sympathetically and comprehensively from both view points. "The House Behind the Cedars" (Houghton, Mifflin & Company. $1.50), is one of the books of the season, and one of the most vitally interesting books touching upon racial distinctions in the South that we have ever read. To begin with, Mr. Chesnutt writes with intense feeling and pity and also with a certain pride born of conscious distinction. He does not deal with the past, but with ever present realities which have grown out of the past. He does not take up his theme in a whining tone, even protesting against the hard lines of fate; but in the simple directness of his story, in the quiet pity of events he chronicles, he enlists one's full sympathies. Many questions arise in one's mind during the reading of the story: some of them Mr. Chesnutt answers, others have implied answers, still others are left to the imagination. Whatever the event, his characters are strong delineations of Southern types--types peculiar to the South and Southern in every accent and motion. * * * Mr. Chesnutt writes with delicacy and kindred sympathy. As a story, "The House Behind the Cedars" is a brilliant performance--clear, to the point, keen in its interests, penetrating in its presentation of character; as a picture of some of the prevailing conditions of Southern life, it shows vividly the hand and fast lines which are still drawn and some of the miseries which fate imposes upon those who, innocent themselves, must yet pay the penalty for the sins of their fathers. Prejudice is too strong for such a book as this, clever as it is in all its consecutive parts, to drown it; but there is no question as to the response in the light of compassion which it will receive, or the surging pity which it arouses. The book is so uniform in its construction, so strong in its treatment, so vital in its interest, that one will sit up far into the night to read it through, oblivious of the fact that he is not a part of it, so potent are the touches of local color--Boston Herald.

Our Review Table., The Tuskegee Student, 12 (December 22, 1900) n.p.