In the World of Books
"The Marrow of Tradition," by Charles W. Chesnutt, will be a distinct disappointment to readers who have admired some of the writer’s artistic work in short story writing. The present volume deals with race prejudice in the South. The author has taken rather a bad lot of white folks and a very good lot of colored folks and put them in situations in which the superior high-mindedness, generosity and nobility of the colored race are spectacularly pre-eminent. Nobody would deny for an instant that two such groups of people might be selected, in which the preponderance of virtues might well be on the side of the darker skins. The failure of the book lies in the fact that the writer's so preoccupied with the ethical object that he utterly forgets both nature and art. All the characters, black and white alike, are mere puppets, marionettes, moved to one end. There is no vitality in them.
It is conceivable that a race problem novel might be written which should be illuminating and convincing. It is very evident from "The Marrow of Tradition" that Mr. Chesnutt is far from being a big enough man to write it. It requires a big brain, and big heart and a vast amount of insight, as well as all the qualities of a novelist.
("The Marrow of Tradition." By Charles W. Chesnutt. $1.50. Houghton, Mifflin & Co. For sale by Lowman & Hanford.)
Rev. of The Marrow of Tradition in "In the World of Books," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 19 Jan. 1902: 31.