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Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown
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Wieland (1798)

by Charles Brockden Brown

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I really didn't like this book. At first, I thought it was because of the style of writing. This book was written in 1798, and it is a little difficult to get used to some of the conventions of that time period. But that wasn't it. Even excusing the writing style, I didn't like this book.

I didn't like the characters at all. Clara Wieland and her family all struck me as bored young men and women with nothing better to do than sit around gossiping. The "villian" of the piece, Carwin, reminded me of many of the villians in real life today who claim "It's not my fault. I couldn't help myself". He spent three chapters explaining how he just couldn't keep from using his "evil power" and came off sounding like a whiny adolescent.

But, worst of all, this is a book where NOTHING happens. The reader isn't shown anything; we're told the whole story. And, there's no indication of the "invisible power and nameless fear" mentioned on the back cover. There's just nothing spooky or suspenseful about this story.

I found the biography of the author from the 1856 Cyclopedia of American Literature, included in this volume, much more interesting than the novel. It seems Brown was quite prolific; as Wieland was his first published novel, it would be interesting to see if his later works improved. ( )
  dulcibelle | Oct 8, 2008 |
Our ancestors sought different pleasures in their reading than we do. Realism? That's what daily life is for. Authentic dialogue? Contrived eloquence is more pleasing. Plausibility? Thrills and towering passions are better. One should not merely "read" this book; one should "earnestly betake oneself to perusal" of it. There's one thing it has in common with modern-day thrillers: The protagonists are all superbly gifted, resourceful, and good-looking. Make that two things: The author seeks to spice up the tale with borrowings from the latest science. The book appeared in 1798, so that means the latest dope on spontaneous combustion, mania, and the obscure but powerful art of "ventrilocution." (N.B. The title character is a fictional cousin of a real German Romantic author — often forgotten today — named Christoph Martin Wieland. You might look him up.)
5 vote Muscogulus | Oct 2, 2008 |
This is very firmly a late-18th/early-19th century novel, but shouldn’t be shied away from as boring or staid. Yes, there is a perfect and pure heroine who faints away from time to time, but really the narrative is almost entirely plot-driven and a real page-turner. Setting a gothic romance among American Quakers proves to be an interesting conceit, as is allowing the swooning heroine to narrate the whole thing herself. The tale also has many elements of the mystery, and Carwin’s long soliloquy presages in many ways the final scene of a detective novel, where the investigator reveals everything and all becomes so suddenly obvious. (That explanation, in this case, may seem to us a bit silly but I understand it was much more exciting in 1798.) Those who follow the 50-page rule (of which I seriously disapprove) may not make it out of the initial exposition and into the real story, which would be a shame, because soon enough the plot takes a much more exciting and breathless turn.

This was not just an enjoyable and unusual execution of the gothic novel, but simply a good read, and a fascinating precursor to other American writers like Edgar Allen Poe.
(More at http://www.bibliographing.com/2008/09/15/wieland-or-the-transformation-an-americ... ) ( )
3 vote nperrin | Sep 15, 2008 |
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Epigraph
From Virtue's blissful paths away
The double-tongued are sure to stray;
Good is a forth-right journey still,
And mazy paths but lead to ill.
Dedication
First words
Advertisement: The following Work is delivered to the world as the first of a series of performances, which the favorable reception of this will induce the Writer to publish.
Wieland, Chapter 1:
I feel little reluctance in complying with your request.
Memoirs of Carwin:
I was the second son of a farmer, whose place of residence was a western district of Pennsylvania.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385031009, Paperback)

An American Tale

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:38 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

This first volume in Kent State University's Bicentennial Edition of the Novels and Related Works of Charles Brockden Brown presents critical texts of Brown's first published novel, Wieland, and of the fragment, Carwin, which he began in 1798 as a companion-piece to his novel. The texts are based on the first printings: the book edition of Wieland printed by T. and J. Swords in New York and published there by Hocquet Caritat in 1798, and the installments of Carwin that appeared in the Literary Magazine in Philadelphia in 1803, 1804, and 1805. The Historical Essay by Alexander Cowie, which follows the texts, discusses the facts surrounding the composition, publication, and reception of both works and their place in America's literary history, and the Textual Essay by S.W. Reid discusses the copy-texts for the present edition, the transmission of the texts, and the editorial decisions that have been based on these considerations. Also appended are photographs of the notebook pages containing Brown's Outline of Wieland, along with our transcription of it. Moreover, as the first in a series of volumes, this volume offers, as well, a note on the principles and procedures guiding the editing of all works in the Bicentennial Edition.… (more)

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