The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage

An Episode of the American Civil War

Paperback - 2015
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THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE is a war novel by American author Stephen Crane (1871-1900). Taking place during the American Civil War, the story is about a young private of the Union Army, Henry Fleming, who flees from the field of battle. Overcome with shame, he longs for a wound, a "red badge of courage," to counteract his cowardice. When his regiment once again faces the enemy, Henry acts as standard-bearer.

Although Crane was born after the war, and had not at the time experienced battle first-hand, the novel is known for its realism. He began writing what would become his second novel in 1893, using various contemporary and written accounts (such as those published previously by Century Magazine) as inspiration. It is believed that he based the fictional battle on that of Chancellorsville; he may also have interviewed veterans of the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the Orange Blossoms. Initially shortened and serialized in newspapers in December 1894, the novel was published in full in October 1895. A longer version of the work, based on Crane's original manuscript, was published in 1982.

The novel is known for its distinctive style, which includes realistic battle sequences as well as the repeated use of color imagery, and ironic tone. Separating itself from a traditional war narrative, Crane's story reflects the inner experience of its protagonist (a soldier fleeing from combat) rather than the external world around him. Also notable for its use of what Crane called a "psychological portrayal of fear," the novel's allegorical and symbolic qualities are often debated by critics. Several of the themes that the story explores are maturation, heroism, cowardice, and the indifference of nature. The Red Badge of Courage garnered widespread acclaim, what H. G. Wells called "an orgy of praise," shortly after its publication, making Crane an instant celebrity at the age of twenty-four. The novel and its author did have their initial detractors, however, including author and veteran Ambrose Bierce. Adapted several times for the screen, the novel became a bestseller. It has never been out of print and is now thought to be Crane's most important work and a major American text.
Publisher: Sweden : Wisehouse Classics, [2015]
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9789176370636
9176370631
Branch Call Number: FIC Crane
Characteristics: 104 pages

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HujeBohoc
Sep 21, 2017

What I liked about this novel is that, instead of focussing on military battles, it describes the array of feelings that a young soldier goes through in a war: excitement, boredom, fear, shame. It is only when the main character is forced to fight in order to survive that he stops having feelings (in other words, that he stops being a human) and becomes a killing machine. And this is what horrifies Stephen Crane about war.

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mccannxgrande
Jun 24, 2016

This book was awful.

Kdmullerspy Jun 20, 2014

It was okay, but a little slow. It kept me interested, though.

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Doctor_10101
Jan 15, 2014

Loved it! The storytelling drew me in and had me reading till the end. Crane did a masterful job.

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andrewgraphics
Sep 02, 2012

A deeply psychological novel of a young man who decides to fight in the Civil War, it follows his thoughts as he is filled, in turns, with patriotism, doubt, fear, shame, cowardice, and heroism.
I wasn't quite ready for such a thought-filled story, expecting more of a narrative; it was not only quite engaging but also at times humorous and quite insightful.

An interesting trick Crane pulled was not using the main character's name throughout most of the book (since the first couple of chapters? something that's hard to go back and check with an audio book), but instead identified him as "the youth" or some such. Helped create more of an Everyman the reader (or listener) could identify with, no matter which side you might have rooted for.

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ilikeitrainy
Jul 06, 2012

I would recommend READING vs. LISTENING TO this book. I felt like a lot of thematic elements and the beauty of the language itself was lost in the reading. It was tough to pay attention to this particular reader.

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Chris_R
Nov 30, 2010

Excellent and quick read.

k
kwsmith
Mar 11, 2010

Through highly vivid and visual prose, this novel provides a first-person description of a cruel American Civil War battle. Much of the story describes how the difficult battle affects the mental state of a young recruit on the front lines. In particular, the young hero vacilates between wanting to fight and wanting to flee.

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Blue_Cat_48
Nov 12, 2015

Blue_Cat_48 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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SPL_STARR Jun 15, 2015

"The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting."

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