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The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane

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Written by Stephen Crane at the age of twenty-one, The Red Badge of Courage is one of the greatest war novels of all time-so groundbreaking that critics consider it to be the first work of modern American fiction. It is a realistic and terrifying account of the Civil War and the fear that a young soldier must face on the battlefield as well as within himself. It is a classic modern depiction of the psychological turmoil of war from the perspective of an ordinary soldier.

The story revolves around Henry Fleming, a member of the 304th regiment of the Union Army, serving during the American Civil War. At the start of the novel Henry is eager to show his patriotism in battle but when faced with the savagery of death, he flees the frontline. Ashamed of his behavior, Henry spends the rest of the life trying to redeem his earlier cowardice. 

Instantly popular from its original publication, brought Crane instant notoriety in the United States and abroad. Although Stephen Crane did not participate in any Civil War battles, the novel is known for its realistic portrayal of the battlefield.



Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, General Press