The Red Badge of Courage and Selected Short Fiction (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Red Badge of Courage and Selected Short Fiction (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Red Badge of Courage and Selected Short Fiction, by Stephen Crane, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Young Henry Fleming dreams of finding glory and honor as a Union soldier in the American Civil War. Yet he also harbors a hidden fear about how he may react when the horror and bloodshed of battle begin. Fighting the enemy without and the terror within, Fleming must prove himself and find his own meaning of valor.

Unbelievable as it may seem, Stephen Crane had never been a member of any army nor had taken part in any battle when he wrote The Red Badge of Courage. But upon its publication in 1895, when Crane was only twenty-four, Red Badge was heralded as a new kind of war novel, marked by astonishing insight into the true psychology of men under fire. Along with the seminal short stories included in this volume—“The Open Boat,” “The Veteran,” and “The Men in the Storm”—The Red Badge of Courage unleashed Crane’s deeply influential impressionistic style.

Richard Fusco has been an Assistant Professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia since 1997. A specialist in nineteenth-century American literature and in short-story narrative theory, he has published on a variety of American, British, and Continental literary figures.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593081195
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 12/1/2004
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 144,061
  • Product dimensions: 7.94 (w) x 5.28 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Fusco has been an Assistant Professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia since 1997. A specialist in nineteenth-century American literature and in short-story narrative theory, he has published on a variety of American, British, and Continental literary figures.
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Read an Excerpt

From Richard Fusco's Introduction to The Red Badge of Courage and Selected Short Fiction

What still fascinates is how, amid such conditions, Crane was able to informally pursue his aesthetic education and produce a novel that is one of the better summations of American sensibilities in the 1890s. His mind was, in effect, a sponge, capable of absorbing the principles of past and current literary traditions, the insights of the leading writers of the day, the beliefs held by competing philosophical schools, the dogmas held by diverse Christian sects, and the trends of political and economic thought. His artistic genius resided in his ability to knit many dissimilar and, at times, conflicting perspectives so thoroughly in a text that we pay more attention to their similarities than their differences. He paints a grim but objective portrait of war's horror in one passage in Red Badge, yet when we turn the page we find ourselves immersed in Fleming's subjective reflection about that event.

Many critics have debated over the years whether Crane was essentially a Realist, a Naturalist, or an Impressionist. I and many others contend that he was all those things and much more. For Crane, the scene or the moment dictates the artistic device the writer should employ. Novels such as Red Badge, then, become compendia of many aesthetic possibilities. In a Crane text, this oscillation among so many ways of looking at the world reflects what all humans must contend with in life. The religious, political, philosophical, or artistic belief that seems best to explain one moment may prove inadequate for the next. Crane's novel about the Civil War offers a chain of partially successful attempts by Henry Fleming to comprehend his environment and purpose. The Red Badge of Courage thus not only chronicles Crane's own restless mind; it also embodies the multifaceted dilemmas with which all intellects curious about man's relationship with the universe must cope.

The dominant literary figures in the United States after the Civil War were the Realists. By the 1890s, Realism's most accomplished practitioners included Mark Twain and Henry James, but William Dean Howells had become the artistic director of the school. Through his magazine columns (the most prominent was "The Editor's Study" in Harper's Monthly), through the example he set in his novels and short stories, and through the new writers whose work he promoted, Howells established a good number of artistic principles for the postbellum generation of American fictionalists. Above all other considerations, he stressed that writers ought to write about subjects, people, and environments with which they were wholly familiar. Realists should not impose their personal biases or philosophical, political, and ethical predispositions on the voice of a text's third-person narrator. The world should be described as if one were looking through a camera lens. The Realist should avoid presenting portraits of people who reside at the extreme ends of the human condition; those who occupy the center of American society are fitter subjects for literary art. Thus, the goal of the writer is to capture with fidelity that which typifies a society.

These and other like precepts pervaded the literary scene that Crane encountered in New York during the early 1890s. They became salient and valuable for him after he heard Hamlin Garland lecture about Howells's work and influence in Avon, New Jersey, in 1891. Crane published a newspaper piece about the talk, which attracted Garland's notice. At that time, Garland, ten years Crane's senior, was himself an emerging Realist of the local-color school. Many American local colorists, who had their aesthetic origins in Ivan Turgenev's seminal short-story collection Sportsman's Notebook, published realistic fiction based upon their regional experiences, chronicling the lives and manners of the people they grew up with or lived among for a long time. Adherents to this approach included Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Rose Terry Cooke, Bret Harte, and George Washington Cable. During the summer of 1891, Garland himself contributed to this collective effort to portray America region by region through publishing Main-Travelled Roads, a story collection based on his family's farming experiences in the Midwest. (Donna Campbell provides an excellent discussion of Crane's tenuous relationship with the local-color movement in her Resisting Regionalism: Gender and Naturalism in American Fiction, 1885-1915; see "For Further Reading.")

When Crane began to gather materials for Red Badge in 1893, most of his immediate resources had realistic assumptions underlying their intentions. Matthew Brady's photographs of the Civil war had recorded with graphic accuracy the ghastliness of battle. Nonfictional reminiscences and novels such as Wilbur F. Hinman's Corporal Si Klegg and His 'Pard', Joseph Kirkland's The Captain of Company K, and the novel that some critics believe marks the incipient moment of American Realism, John William De Forest's Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Succession to Loyalty, all share the desire to acquaint a civilian reader with the actualities of war and of military life.

Crane's most immediate source, however, owed its realistic intentions to another sort of discourse-history. In 1893 he borrowed from the mother of a former childhood playmate the multivolume work Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (1887), a compilation of a mammoth series of articles that had first appeared in The Century magazine years earlier. Here Crane found a rich vein of primary material, including essays by participating Union and Confederate officers, such as Generals Darius N. Couch, Alfred Pleasonton, Oliver O. Howard, and R. E. Colston. With these accounts, Crane began to understand the facts, tactics, and strategies of the Battle of Chancellorsville that he would integrate into his story. Despite the occasional note of nostalgia or bravado, despite the defensive tone adopted by a general in explaining the misdeeds of his troops, these historical sources on the whole do comply with the empirical spirit pursued by a new generation of nineteenth-century historians. These writers presented firsthand testimony when available and assembled all known facts in their correct chronological sequence in order to illustrate an historical event as accurately as the evidence allows.

For all his research in these and other historical texts, however, Crane could not compensate for his one obvious deficiency, one that challenged any claim he might make to call himself a Realist. Realists were supposed to confine their efforts to subjects they knew well and had experienced intimately. Born six years after the Civil War ended, Crane had never even seen a battle before he finished the manuscript for Red Badge. His mentor Howells would later chide him about this predicament, telling him that Maggie was more artistically successful because he based it upon what he had lived and observed directly, unlike Red Badge, which was constructed from the observations of others and Crane's own guesses. How ironic it was, after the latter novel was published, that the reading public hailed Crane as the nascent star of American Realism.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 115 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 116 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Red Badge of Courage

    I decided to start reading in my leisure at the early age of 50. Classics were the best bet, since I did not want to waste time. This book is very good because it described the fear of dying and not know if running in the face of battle was going to be the end of your life. Fear was highly described in the heat of the battle.

    This is a great book and I am glad I read it since I currently have a son in the armed forces.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2007

    Outstanding

    The ¿Red Badge of Courage¿ written by Stephen Crane in 1895, is about a boy and his two-day journey into manhood. The story begins with our main character debating whether or not he will have enough courage to fight or if he will flee. This idea of courage is a common theme throughout the book. When the youth(as Crane often refers to him) is engaged in his first battle, he finds that his self and his fellow soldiers are so closely positioned that he couldn¿t run if he wanted to. Therefore, he continues to fight almost as if he were a single gear inside an immense clock. Though successful in his first battle Henry flees from the second cursing his cowardice. After that, he witnesses his friend dying and begins to fight with a new sense of valor there after. A wonderfully built cast of characters is more often than not an indicator of a fantastic book, and Stephen Crane is no exception to this trend. From the beginning, Henry was portrayed as a naïve boy with only the desire to build a reputation for himself. Before long, the author delves deep within his mind to see both sides of every argument he has and more than anything shows his development into a man. He starts as a boy wishing to become a hero of war but at the same time not wanting to go through the process of achieving that. Within only a day his selfishness seems to melt away as he begins to fight with a disregard to what his comrades will think of him and rather just to fight. This is a huge change in character and undoubtedly puts him into the category of man. The same is true for Wilson, our main characters friend on the field. Stephen introduced Wilson as the loud soldier. As his rise in maturity level becomes apparent so does the lowering in noise he produces. These two ideas seem to compliment each other as they make for a seemingly ¿complicated¿ character development. The point of view comes from that of a Union soldier in this book. The point of view is arguably one of the best elements in this book for the very reason that it is so real. Many other war novels will depict the main character as an indestructible fighting machine, but this book even has its main character doubting his own courage and willfulness to go into battle. It becomes the only reason people are still able to relate to this book so much even a hundred years after the lives of the target audience. The point of view in this book seems to become your own. The ideas and beliefs are so real that one begins to wonder if Stephen Crane had gone through a similar development. Overall, I would say this book was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone. It might require a little more patience than that needed for a more modern book because of the differences in style, like how an author would introduce an idea or theme. Some might introduce things very slowly while others would introduce it as bluntly as possible. Still, I give this book a five out of five.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2003

    One of the great war books

    As someone who has never actually been in combat I cannot confirm what many say about 'The Red Badge of Courage' i.e. that it presents one of the most true pictures of what that experience is. I can however say that the whole story of Henry Fleming's initial great dreams of heroism, his terrible surprise at the revelation of his own cowardice in battle, and his redemptive return to the field of battle is one which rings true. There is something very clear, pure and American in the writing of Crane. And this work has a quiet power and authenticity. An American classic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2014

    Crane's Red badge of Courage Still Resonates Today

    Crane's classic descriptions of the battlefield's sights and sounds paint a lasting picture of the Civil War battlefields. His words resonate today whether you talk of Iraq or Afghanistan. Although geographically different, the thick smoke, smell of decomposing bodies, and the bloodbath's of battle are still the same. The fear is palpable as he describes the valiant soldiers and their reaction to battle. He really makes the reader understand the psychological turmoil that war brings as well as the camaraderie that develops among soldiers in the heat of the battle. The symbolism in the Red badge of Courage would make this a great choice for a classic book club discussion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2013

    The awesome badge of corage

    This is my all time favorite book. I would rather read this book than watch the cooking channle. I would enCORAGE young readers to read this book. I always go into a diffrent world when i read a good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    Very good.

    It really captures the horrors of war.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    Not bad

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2009

    Vivid stories, worthy of acknowledgment.

    Some of the written text is colloquail in nature dating back to the 1800s. This could hinder some understanding of what the character's are saying unless you pay close attention to the bullet points regarding the various terms used. A couple of the war depications written in the "Red Badge" are quite graphic.

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  • Posted April 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Psychological Analyses and Wonderful Stories

    This collection of the short-lived genius Stephen Crane includes four stories, "The Red Badge of Courage," "The Open Boat," "The Veteran," and "The Men in the Storm." "The Red Badge of Courage," by far Crane's most famous work, is an unparalleled analysis of battlefield psychology and the human mind itself. It is extremely real and unglorified, and depicts humans for what they are at their core: selfish. The main character's inner thoughts shed light on human depravity, cowardice, and a desire for glory in order to win respect from other men. This is a great discussion starter, and I would reccomend it for book clubs and group reading. In contrast with some previous reviews, I found the book fairly easy to understand, despite its off-beat, introverted way of story-telling.

    The second story in the collection "The Open Boat," a much shorter piece, is equally interesting and worthy of praise. The nameless main character wrestles with the concept of death as he and his fellow crewman try to make it to shore on a tiny dinghy in the midst of a storm. Crane's unique approach rings true especially in this brief tale.

    The last stories, "The Veteran" and "The Men in the Storm" are extremely brief and of a lower quality than the first two, but they are still worth your time.

    If you want some digestable, intriguing, discussion-worthy tales, purchase this collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2008

    Too hard to read

    I read this book for an ap english class and found it way too hard to follow. I ended up reading the cliff notes for it instead and the story was very good, but the book is written in language that is extremely hard to comprehend. If you have time to figure it out, it's a great read, else I would probably not recommend it - read the cliff notes instead!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2007

    A reviewer

    The Red Badge of Courage By Stephen Crane Report by N. Toth If any textbook can match the incredible detail of The Red Badge of Courage, I have yet to see it. This brilliant Civil War epic written by Stephen Crane tells the story of a young man named Henry Fleming¿s first engagement for the Union army. During this struggle, Henry learns what war really is. The reason I loved this book was its amazing clarity and gripping suspense, like when Henry was shot. Another reason to read The Red Badge of Courage is that it brings you into the main character¿s deepest thoughts and feelings, which can be to the extremes of human emotion at times. For example when Henry Fleming was in battle, he had ¿the red sickness of war¿ The Red Badge of Courage is the best war story you will ever read. If you want to experience this heart-pounding adventure, get The Red Badge of Courage !!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2007

    Don't Waste Your Time!!

    Wow...This book was really bad!!! As Robert Frost said, 'All poems have the right reader.' (It applies to novels to). Either I was just the wrong reader, or this was to bad to be believed.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2006

    Umm... wow.

    I had to read this in eighth grade and it was by far one of the worst books I have ever read. I could barely understand a thing.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2006

    Masterfully Written

    When I started to read this book, I thought that it was going to be really dry and boring, but, when I really started to get into it, I couldn't put it down. Not only did it have great battles civil war style, it delt with the fear of battle. I loved this book and find it the best classic I've ever laid eyes on. I gave it a 4 because the dialoge of the soliders was hard to read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2006

    A bit boring at some parts

    The Red Badge of Courage is about a young boy who wants to join the Union Army and struggles to find the determination within himself. The book is okay but I've read better books. Some parts are page turners and some are not. Other times you think when all that stuff you read about the Civil War comes in.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 116 Customer Reviews

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