BY CHARLES CURTZ HAHN.
IN THEIR advertisement of Charles W. Chestnut's "Marrow of Tradition" the publishers state that it will recall "Uncle Tom's Cabin," so great is the dramatic intensity, and so strong its appeal to popular sympathies. Mr. Chestnut has taken up the cause of the negro and has written a book which will please them and northern readers, but it is a question if it will meet with as favorable a reception in the south.
The plot is laid in Virginia and the colored question is brought out with all the force of a northern writer looking with northern eyes. In this respect it does remind one of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," but in that respect only. "The Marrow of Tradition," has not the tender sympathy for the slave which marked Mrs. Stowe's great work, neither has it those little touches of humor and of pathos which made Uncle Tom's Cabin readable in the south as well as the north.
And yet it is a fascinating work which one does not like to lay down until it is finished. The darky scenes and characters are all truly drawn. The white characters are rather indistinct, but one can forgive that. The story of that massacre which occurred in a southern state is graphically depicted. The trials of a colored man in trying to gain a level with a white man in the south where he had been so long held in slavery are also well drawn. The plot of the book is good, interesting from beginning to end and will amuse many who care nothing for the deeper purpose which the author had in view. It is especially appropriate at the present time when the colored question is assuming proportions. As an eastern critic has said, "There have been other novels which have the color line for the central motive, but none since Uncle Tom's Cabin that is visibly the outburst of long pent up feeling."
As a novel it ranks high. As an advocate of the negro it stands equally well and will doubtless be popular in the north if it is not in the south. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.)
Rev. of The Marrow of Tradition, in "Books," Sunday World-Herald [Omaha] 26 Jan 1902: 31.