Skip to main content

[Review of The Marrow of Tradition]

The Marrow of Tradition. By Charles W. Chestnut[sic]. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., $1.50.

A novel written apparently by a man with a racial grievance, and for the purpose of exposing conditions rather than to gratify any literary instinct in the author. All the traditional virtues of the negroes are contrasted with all the reputed vices of Southern whites with the lively distinctions of a mulatto imagination. And the result is vigorous and vindictive to a remarkable degree. Mr. Chestnut[sic] will do well to remember that in order to make his enemy appear thoroughly despicable, he should be treated with a show of fairness instead of a malignant hatred, which always excites sympathy. He tips the scales of justice to far in favor of his own indignant emotions. But these, however justified by the fact of his own experience, are never safe foundations to build a romance upon. They are too rash, too personal. And art at least is no respecter of persons. There is no color line in its eternal fairness.