Book Review: Dhairyaye Rathu Salakuna | Sunday Observer

Book Review: Dhairyaye Rathu Salakuna

The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane
Translator: Senaratne Weerasinghe
Prabha Publishers, Veyangoda
Price: Rs 450

Senaratne Weerasinghe’s latest book, “Dhairyaye Rathu Salakuna” is the Sinhala translation of Stephen Crane’s path breaking novel “The Red Badge of Courage.” After reading it the eminent author Joseph Conrad said, “It is one of the most enduring memories of my literary life.”

“The Red Badge of Courage” was originally published in 1895. The story revolves around the Civil War in America which lasted from 1861 to 1865. American critics condemned the novel for its depiction of soldiers. However, English critics hailed it as a successful novel. It enjoys 30th place among the best 100 English novels published up to now. Similarly, “The Red Badge of Courage” has been placed at the 15th place among the 100 best American novels published so far.

The translator has captured the essence and nuances of the original novels effectively. With his wide experience as a translator, Weerasinghe has done justice to the novel. The story is about Henry and his point of view of the war. The author has examined the concept of war both as a conflict among nations and as a psychological conflict within each person.

According to military historians, the decisive battle of Gettysburg that took place in July 1863, was the turning point in the American Civil War. The battle was between the Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army. General George Gordon Lee of the Confederate Army believed that the invasion might increase the Northern war-weariness leading to Northern recognition of the Confederate States of America.

The Battle of Gettysburg arrested the Confederate’s last invasion of the North.

During the three-day battle the Federal Army and the Confederates lost a large number of soldiers. However, the novel has been written six years after the war. The author has obtained information about the war from the people who witnessed it.

The novel opens with the protagonist joining the army. At the beginning he was proud to be a soldier. However, he gradually developed a mortal fear of fighting in the war. The novelist has dexterously portrayed his confused mental set-up.

Instead of celebrating the war, “Dhairyaye Rathu Salakuna” portrays its futility through the behaviour and the psychological exposure of the protagonist. Therefore, it is a novel not to be missed by the lovers of literature.

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