Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 July 2010
Chicago Evening Post, December 18, 1899, p. 5
“The Monster,” by Stephen Crane, is one of those painful stories which should, perhaps, never have been written. Being written, it is of those which will never be forgotten by its readers. It is as horrible as Poe's “M. Valdemar” and as real as—well, as real as “The Open Boat.” It contains nothing supernatural, nothing extravagant, nothing which might not actually come to pass in the everyday life of a country town. It is told in a series of patchy chapters, each an episode, a lifelike study elaborated to the fraction of a hair. Never was a truer bit of childlife, never a more astonishing comprehension of polite colored circles in a northern village, never a truer transcript of volunteer fire companies or conversation in a barber-shop, never a more vivid description of the magic action of chemicals.
Some of these disconnected bits are too long, too full of detail, too carefully insisted on; but before the reader can grow weary the artist has put his red patch and his saffron piece and his ghastly blue blot together, and presto! the picture stands forth, startling, ineffaceable. Mr. Crane, in his own willful, unpleasant way, is an artist, and he has here created a small and odious work of art.