By Claudia Durst Johnson
Every generation of readers has interpreted the meaning of The Red Badge of Courage anew. Its appeal is both historical and universal--historical in its Civil War setting and universal in its relating of the experiences of a young man who is thrust into a situation he does not understand and cannot cope with. This collection of historical documents, collateral readings, and commentary will promote interdisciplinary study of the novel and enrich the reader's understanding of its themes and historical context. A wide variety of more than 40 primary documents and firsthand accounts brings to life the Civil War experiences of leaders and soldiers of the Union and Confederacy, especially in the Battle of Chancellorsville, which is the setting for the novel. Carefully selected memoirs, poems, short stories, newspaper articles, and interviews illuminate the historical setting, the themes of cowardice and desertion, battlefield experiences, the soldier's life in camp, and the issue of pacifism as it relates to The Red Badge of Courage as an antiwar novel.
- Westport, CT