This little tale is a terrible indictment against war, and yet it is written with utmost simplicity - a really artistic simplicity which permits its being placed side by side with the best pages of Turgenev and Tolstoy. In 1879 an execution was pending at St. Petersburg, and the summary justice of a court-martial had produced a most painful impression on society. During the night Garshin made a desperate effort to obtain a reprieve for the condemned. He failed in his attempt, and two days later, seized by a nervous disease, he ran away from his friends who kept watch over him, wandered on foot over Russia, and was at last confined in a provincial lunatic asylum. He soon recovered, and wrote "A Red Flower," a most striking description of the double consciousness of a madman who knows his illness and yet makes superhuman efforts to destroy some red flower - a red poppy he saw in the garden of the asylum-because that flower, stained with the blood of all martyrs of humanity, appears to be, in his imagination, the cause of all human sufferings. Garshin's tale records of what he saw, felt, and suffered himself. But his brain was tormented by the same questions and contradictions which perplex so many of his contemporaries, so that his tale reflect the actual state of mind of educated society in the Russia of today; and he was endowed with a fine artistic taste which permitted him to show in a few traits the very bottom of the human heart. He possessed to a high degree the really artistic gift of obtaining the most powerful effects by the simplest means.
-The Literary World, Volume 19 
"A Red Flower" is a fantastic picture of insanity by Vsevolod Garshin, one of the younger Russians of the day.
-The Smart Set, Volume 35 show more