Chapter

<i>Wieland</i>: Charles Brockden Brown's American Tale

Pamela Clemit

in The Godwinian Novel

Published in print March 1993 | ISBN: 9780198112204
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112204.003.0005

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Wieland: Charles Brockden Brown's American Tale

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The development of Godwinian methods in pursuit of a critique of William Godwin is Charles Brockden Brown's distinctive achievement in Wieland; or, The Transformation, his first completed novel, published September 1798. Brown's use of subjective narrative techniques to convey conservative political fears makes Wieland a pivotal text between Godwin's essentially optimistic critique of society in Caleb Williams and Mary Shelley's uncompromising pessimism in Frankenstein. Though much of the novel's immediate appeal lay in its qualities as a terror novel, Brown himself put great emphasis on its moral utility. Before looking at these imaginative strategies in more detail, there is a need to account for Brown's rapid shift from enthusiastic welcome of Godwin's fiction to distrust of revolutionary aspirations. Brown's mixed allegiance to Godwin should be seen in the light of American conservative reaction against revolutionary ideas.

Keywords: William Godwin; Charles Brockden Brown; Wieland; society; Caleb Williams; Mary Shelley; Frankenstein; subjective narrative; revolutionary ideas

Chapter.  13572 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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