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[Review of The Marrow of Tradition]


Every one of the novels that have been written by Charles W. Chestnutt[sic] has had at least something to commend it, but none of its predecessors has combined so many points of excellence as are possessed by "The Marrow of Tradition" (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Troy: Hastings' Book Store). Like most, if not all, the others, this newest book from Mr. Chestnutt's[sic] facile pen deals with Southern life and is a truthful and powerful portrayal of certain conditions that exist in many Southern towns of to-day. It is the highest type of realism, for it presents certain phases of contemporaneous life of which the public should have full knowledge if existing evils are ever to be eradicated. It may not be altogether pleasing to some of the Southern people to have full glare of publicity turned upon them by so influential an author, but the most daring of them would hardly presume to question the truthfulness of the author's work. The story itself may have had its origin only in Mr. Chestnutt's[sic] fertile brain, but there is certainly nothing about it that might not have happened. It hardly need be said that the question of race hatred and its direful consequences enters largely into the story. No tale of Southern life could exclude that question, and yet the truthful, for this same question is bound up into the very life of the South. It must be apparent to even the superficial reader that "The Marrow of Tradition" has been written with a more serious purpose than to provide entertainment for the reader. To what extent that purpose will be served depends very largely upon the amount of attention the book receives.