The finest novel of the Civil War, and one of the greatest battle stories ever told
The question of courage enters Henry Fleming’s mind the moment he dons the blue uniform of the Union Army. But his first firefight reveals the emptiness of words such as bravery and fear. Pinned in by his comrades, he can only fire his rifle like a cog in a machine. There is no chance to run.
Then comes the true test. Waking from a nap, Henry sees the enemy advancing once again. Gripped by an unshakable terror, he flees—from his regiment, from duty, from everything he wanted to believe about himself. A corpse bears witness to his shame.
The nightmare has come true. Henry Fleming is a coward. Only one thing can save him now: a visible wound, the red badge of courage. With his regiment’s colors in hand, Henry looks the enemy in the eye—and charges.
Stephen Crane was born six years after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox and had yet to see a battlefield when he wrote The Red Badge of Courage. Nevertheless, the novel is widely regarded as one of the most realistic depictions of war ever published, and a masterpiece of American literature.
This ebook has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.
This 1895 tale of young soldier Henry Fleming's initial experiences in combat during the Civil War still startles. Artist Vansant captures Fleming's uncertainty and fear quite well, sometimes through effectively understated facial expressions. Yet this adaptation oversimplifies Crane's portrayal of Fleming, ignoring or de-emphasizing the character's other failings: his egotism, his talent for self-justification and the "wild battle madness" underlying much of his later heroism. In Crane's book, Fleming is haunted by his desertion of the dying "tattered man"; in Vansant's version, Fleming forgets him. Though Crane's book is a landmark in realism, the author's symbolic writing turned Fleming's battlefield into a mythic realm. Vansant's conventionally realistic artwork, on the other hand, is more prosaic than Crane's brilliantly descriptive captions. This adaptation faithfully introduces the plot, characters and primary themes of Red Badge to readers unfamiliar with the original book without penetrating the full depths of Crane's masterwork.