Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist

ISBN-10: 0393932532
ISBN-13: 9780393932539
Edition: 2010
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Description: Wieland , the story of religious delusions and horrific violence on the eve of the American Revolution, is the first gothic novel in America and a cornerstone of the Early American literary cannon. A family living on an estate outside Philadelphia  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/28/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 594
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.50" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.496

Wieland , the story of religious delusions and horrific violence on the eve of the American Revolution, is the first gothic novel in America and a cornerstone of the Early American literary cannon. A family living on an estate outside Philadelphia is visited first by a set of mysterious voices, seemingly coming out of thin air, followed soon after by an itinerant rustic named Carwin. Violence erupts when the familyrs"s young patriarch believes he hears Godrs"s voice demanding a human sacrifice as a sign of faith. Testing the limits of religious and literary authority in the new United States, Brownrs"s novel has for more than two centuries kept readers debating questions of agency, accountability, and revolutionary politics as the storyrs"s moral chaos unfolds. The editor provides explanatory annotation throughout the volume. This Norton Critical Edition also reprints Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist , Brownrs"s fragmentary sequel to Wieland. "Sources and Contexts" presents inspirations for Brownrs"s work, including an account of the real-life Yates family murders, an excerpt from Christoph Martin Wielandrs"s The Trial of Abraham , as well as religious and medical accounts of delusion, spontaneous combustion, and ventriloquism. Brownrs"s outline for Wieland and his letter to Thomas Jefferson are also reprinted. "Criticism" includes contemporary responses to the novel from both the United States and the United Kingdom along with fourteen essential modern critical approaches. Recent contributors include Shirley Samuels, Christopher Looby, Nancy Ruttenberg, Laura Korobkin, David Kazanjian, Bryan Waterman, and Stephen Shapiro, among others. A Chronology and a Selected Bibliography are also included.

Charles Brockden Brown, the first full-time professional writer in the United States, is considered by many to be the nation's first important novelist. He is noted chiefly for having written four Gothic novels that prefigure one of America's most significant traditions, the kind of psychological-moralistic fiction written by Hawthorne, Poe, Henry James, William Faulkner, and Flannery O'Connor. Brown was also admired and imitated by such English writers such as Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Thomas Love Peacock. While Brown's texts displayed some of the indulgences inherent in the Gothic tradition, his work is notable for its inventive and sophisticated construction and for what Brown termed moral painting. Within four years, between 1789 and 1801, he published six novels. Wieland (1798), perhaps his best-known work, was based on an actual murder case in New York, but Brown was less interested in the sensational aspects than in the moral and psychological implications of the case. Ormand (1799) deals with an attempted seduction but is ultimately about the struggle of conflicting values. Arthur Mervyn (1799), the longest of Brown's novels, is a realistic account of the yellow fever plague that occurred in Philadelphia in 1733. Edgar Huntly (1799), though occasionally incredible, is a skillful interrogation of moral ambiguities and complexities. Before he abandoned novel writing for a career in journalism in 1804, Brown published two more novels, Clara Howard and Jane Talbot, both in 1801. Although for many years Brown's work received relatively limited attention, scholarly interest in his work has increased dramatically in the past 40 years. All of his fiction is once more in print, and carefully edited volumes of his works have recently been published by Kent State University Press. Brown died in 1810.

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