By Kate Chopin

An intrepid explorer of taboos, Chopin wrote a few of America's boldest and most sensible 19th-century fiction.

Divorce and alcoholism are one of the bold matters of her first novel, set within the rural post-Reconstruction South opposed to a backdrop of monetary devastation and simmering racial stress.

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He applies the hardships of urban life, which he has witnessed firsthand, to those of the soldier’s life that he can only imagine. In fact, one of the most striking patterns of imagery running through the novel is explicitly industrial: war, the army, and the individual man are all compared to parts of a machine. Fleming imagines that the enemy soldiers “must be machines of steel” (39). The Union army, of which he is a part, is a “mighty blue machine” (66). ” (41). Battle is “like the grinding of an immense and terrible machine,” and Fleming “must go see it produce corpses” (48).

Appleton & Company to publish a book-length version of Red Badge, and in October 1895 the novel appeared. Though the Appleton version was long considered authoritative, in the late twentieth century scholars began reviewing Crane’s manuscripts and noting discrepancies between them and the Appleton text; naturally, several enterprising Crane scholars could not resist poking at the hornet’s nest that these manuscript variants presented. The complete Red Badge manuscript is held in the special collections of the University of Virginia, but a four-fifths sized, photographic facsimile of it was also produced by Fredson Bowers in 1972.

Reactions to the novel ran the gamut: some reviewers assumed Crane was a veteran who had seen battle himself, while others questioned his patriotism for writing an account of the war that was so unrelentingly grim. What most critics agreed on, however, was that Crane was doing something new and different. An anonymous reviewer wrote of Crane’s realistic approach to war: The description is so vivid as to be almost suffocating. The reader is right down in the midst of it where patriotism is dissolved into its elements.

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