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A Bundle of New Novels

A Bundle of Novels

THE MARROW OF TRADITION. By Charles W. Chestnutt. $1.50. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. For sale by all booksellers.

IT is said by the publishers of Mr. Charles W. Chestnutt's latest novel, "The Marrow of Tradition," that it "will recall at many points 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' so great is its dramatic intensity." The suggestion us, unfortunately, too true. The author has sacrificed art to melodrama, and the book is by no means as finely conceived or as well executed as "The House Behind the Cedars." Dramatic in a sense it is, and no doubt it will be far more popular than the earlier story; but like Mrs. Stowe's celebrated anti-slavery novel it is too full of theatrical tricks which are unworthy of the author's abilities. It hinges on the same problem as the story which preceded it, although in this case the result produced by the admixture of white and negro blood is an entirely different one. There is, however, the same suffering by entirely innocent persons--first moral and mental pain, and then subjection to physical violence. The first part of the book is admirably written; the latter portion, culminating in the exciting episode of the final chapter is decidedly lacking in artistic balance. That such a circumstance as Mrs. Carteret's appeal to Dr. Miller might actually have occurred, one is not disposed to deny; but nature is not always art and fiction should be, invariably; hence such a startling climax must not only be possible, if must seem so. This is where the obvious weakness of the book asserts itself, just as Mrs. Stowe's crudities are apparent to the modern reader of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Yet in some ways Mr. Chestnutt's novel is the more artistic of the two, although he lacks Mrs. Stowe's power in others. On the whole, however, "The Marrow of Tradition" does not show progress on the part of the author, and must, therefore, be a disappointment to readers of his former stories.