Marginalia, no.264

I did not see any sign among the fighting men, whether wounded or unwounded, of the very complicated emotions assigned to their kind by some of the realistic modern novelists who have written about battles.

~ Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders

Stephen Crane must have been among the “realistic modern novelists” Roosevelt intended: The Red Badge of Courage was published three years before the war with Spain. Roosevelt never mentions him, but Crane traveled as a correspondent with the regiment in Cuba. In a story filed from Siboney on June 24, 1898, Crane recounts the Rough Riders’ first battle with the Spanish. Afterwards, one of his fellow correspondents – mortally wounded – asks Crane to file his dispatches for him. How did this fit a novelist’s idea of “complicated emotions” under fire? “I immediately decided that he was doomed,” says Crane. “No man could be so sublime in detail concerning the trade of journalism and not die.”

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