The Marrow of Tradition. By Charles W. Chesnutt. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
The medium of fiction is used by the author of 'The Marrow of Tradition' to make a statement of existing relations between negroes and whites in several of the Southern States. Plot, characters, and situations are all conceived with this object in view. The combination of fiction and fact is not perfect, but it is closer and smoother than most of the current purpose novels. The characterization of both races is excellent, and to many of the scenes the author has given a genuine dramatic touch, the touch that thrills and convinces. In statement of conditions and in criticism Mr. Chesnutt is calm, acute, and just–surprisingly so when he discusses lynch law and disfranchisement by the "grandfather clause" and other ingenious methods. The tone of his argument throughout is admirable, and the expression often eloquent. While his novel is inferior to his short stories in form and method, it shows more vigorously than they do the capacity for cool observation and reflection