THE LONG ROLL (Illustrated)by Mary Johnston
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Mary Johnston's novel, "The Long Roll" is possibly the most ambitious of all her writings. One critic considered it "an unmistakable bid for the honor of a great American novel." It contains 683 pages and approximately 270,000 words — enough to fill three novels of a the long fair size. And there is also a Roll companion volume, which deals as this deals with "the war between the States." It is evident that Johnston has the same ambition that many American novelists have had, to write a great series of historical romances. She began that way with "To Have and To Hold." But in that, romance was in the foreground always, history in the background. In "The Long Roll" the romance is well in the background and history is in the foreground. It is "not a novel," said the New York Globe, "it is history; it is not history, it is war itself." It is, in fact, wonderfully like a series of Meissonier's pictures, vivid, crowded with figures, full of detail. She has used so many "true stories" from the chronicles of the war that she apologizes for not giving the names of the writers to whom she is indebted because it would make "a very long list."
'The San Francisco Chronicle' frankly admired the book both as history and as romance. It pronounces the portrait of Jackson "a masterpiece," calls the work "a monumental history," thinks the style "a triumph in the narrative form of writing," and regards the plot as "excellent" and "artistically developed to the suggestion of a happy conclusion."
'The Outlook' was equally enthusiastic, although it also finds that the fullness of detail taxes at times the reader's attention. But of "its extraordinary ability as a piece of semi-historic writing" there can be no question, "it has the quality of an epic in its magnitude, its narrative sweep, its pervading sense of fundamental issues, its broad movement of elemental forces."
"The Long Roll" may be described as a sympathetic interpretation of one of the heroic periods in the military life of this country.
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