Critical Insights: The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage was a sensation when it was first published in 1894. More vivid, unflinching, and artistically and philosophically complex than any prior war novel, it made its author, Stephen Crane, an overnight international celebrity. Readers were gripped by Crane's lucid descriptions of warfare and of the vacillating mind of his young, untested soldier, Henry Fleming, and many assumed that he must have been a veteran of the Civil War. Yet Crane was only twenty-three when he wrote it and had never even lived through a war, let alone fought in one.