The Colonel's Dream, By Charles W. Chesnutt. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. Pittsburgh: J. R. Weldin & Co. 240 pages. Price, $1.50.
Mr. Chesnutt's novel, it would seem, is an indirect answer to the strident books of Thomas Dixon. This is unfortunate, not only because controversy is not the function of fiction, but also because Mr. Chesnutt is no match for the fiery apologist of the Ku Klux Klan, either as advocate or romancer. The Colonel's Dream tells the story of a New York business man who arrives at riches and leisure by selling out to a trust, and then goes south to his old home for his health. There he meets a number of good old-fashioned negroes of the Uncle Tom variety, and runs up against the iniquities practiced under the convict labor law. According to Mr. Chesnutt's story, the prevailing practice is to goad the ignorant negro to some crime, arrest and sentence him for it, selling his labor to the highest bidder–thus introducing a new form of slavery under the guise of a penal institution. But Mr. Chesnutt cannot lay on the lurid colors as Mr. Dixon can–his horrors are underdone, as the others are overdone. There is a love interest running through the story, but the Colonel's affection for his little son is far more potently pictured.