Wieland: or, the Transformation, an American Tale

Wieland or the Transformation an American Tale Excerpt from Wieland or the Transformation Genius and knowledge command respect but superior genius and profound knowledge combined with exalted moral purity cannot fail to excite unmingled admirati

  • Title: Wieland: or, the Transformation, an American Tale
  • Author: Charles Brockden Brown
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 406
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Wieland: or, the Transformation, an American Tale

    Excerpt from Wieland or the Transformation Genius and knowledge command respect but superior genius and profound knowledge, combined with exalted moral purity, cannot fail to excite unmingled admiration The reputation of an author in whom these qualities are united may be circumscribed during life but its rise and extension after death prove that his claims to distinctiExcerpt from Wieland or the Transformation Genius and knowledge command respect but superior genius and profound knowledge, combined with exalted moral purity, cannot fail to excite unmingled admiration The reputation of an author in whom these qualities are united may be circumscribed during life but its rise and extension after death prove that his claims to distinction are well founded It is no less the duty than the pleasure of friendship to fortify and sustain these claims The impartiality of criticism cannot but confirm the anticipations of affection Charles Brockden Brown was the highly gifted descendant of ancestors originally English, who came over to this country with the wise and benevolent Penn, and landed from the same ship on the banks of the Delaware Their principles, moral, religious, and political, coincided with those of their pious and illustrious leader He derived the additional name of Brockden from his uncle Charles Brockden, so respectfully mentioned by Franklin in his life, who, to avoid the vengeance of conspirators, whose secret conversations he had accidentally overheard, fled to America and settled in Pennsylvania, where his industry and abilities finally raised him to an important office, which he filled with distinguished reputation.

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      Published :2018-08-08T18:40:32+00:00

    One thought on “Wieland: or, the Transformation, an American Tale

    1. BillKerwin

      How do you judge a writer who has a spark of genius but almost no talent or skill? That's my dilemma with Charles Brockden Brown. First the genius part. Brown is credited--fairly I think--with being the United States' first professional novelist, and it is remarkable how many important American themes are first brought forth here. A phrase of W.C.Williams--”the pure products of America go crazy”--continually occurred to me during my reading, and this is just what Brown has given us here: got [...]

    2. Jeremy

      Poor Charles Brockden Brown. While no one would mistake him for a great, forgotten writer, his kooky, early American Gothic style still has its charms, if for no other reason than the completely ape-shit plot devices that he works with. Spontaneous Combustion! Ventriloquism! Religious Fanaticism! Insanity! I feel like a contemporary writer could come along and turn these ideas into a really killer, sprawling sort of book, like Pynchon or Wallace or someone like that. Obviously it's not fair to c [...]

    3. Cphe

      A difficult book to recommend with any confidence. Read this as part of a group read. From an historical perspective it was interesting being an early American book but I found the tale itself hard reading in places. Very difficult to really enjoy any of the characters on offer although I did enjoy the decidedly Gothic air. Favourite line from the novel."His sickness and his death might possibly have detained him."

    4. Dfordoom

      Wieland, or, The Transformation, An American Tale is a remarkable book for a number of reasons. American literature scarcely existed in the late 18th century when Charles Brockden Brown made the bold decision to pursue a literary career. Wieland, published in 1798, is a gothic novel, but it’s more than that. It’s a complete re-invention of the gothic novel, with the accepted trappings of mouldering castles and doomed aristocratic heroes being discarded entirely. It’s the beginning of Ameri [...]

    5. Tristram

      “The Narrative Was by No Means Recommended by Its Eloquence […]“Thus speaks the first person narrator, Clara Wieland, in Charles Brockden Brown’s novel Wieland about a manuscript in which her deceased father gives an account of his life and experiences, and, ironically, or sadly, this much can also be said for the novel itself in that Charles Brockden Brown, though he may be the first American novelist, simply cannot write. At first, I thought the strangely staccato syntax and the lack o [...]

    6. Jon

      If a goth Calvinist with a chaffed ass and marginal writing skills wrote an episode of Scooby-Doo it would closely resemble this dated, moralizing tale, created with cobbled together elements of gothic literature, which unfortunately represents the best of American literature at its infancy. The introduction to this book, written by a contemporary of Brown's named Evert A. Duyckinck, was so poorly written I thought it was kook literature penned by a privately wealthy independent book publisher, [...]

    7. Bryan

      What interests me the most about Wieland is the time-span of its narrative, between the end of the American Revolution and the beginning of the French Revolution. Brown clearly wants his story of a 'ventriloquist' (not Edgar Bergen --- here, someone skilled in tricking others to ascribe his 'thrown voice' to an occult authority) to be read as some sort of historical allegory! But, if you are not interested in Brown as a political thinker, this very strange novel can also be read as a kind of ago [...]

    8. Stacey

      About twelve or fifteen years ago, in every issue of Entertainment Weekly, they would ask a published author to recommend a book to their readers and explain why they think people should read it. I normally only glanced over every issue because I'm too busy, and most recommendations were (are?) fairly mainstream. What caught my attention this time was the black and white photo of the author making the recommendation. He was young. Big, wild, dark eyes stared out of a pale face with nine-o'clock [...]

    9. Darklittle

      Wieland leads us to 18th century Pennsylvania and a great part of the novel is set on the Wieland family estate. Charles Brockden Brown created a grey and dreary setting that is perfect for what’s about to happen. While reading, I sometimes imagined that the Wieland estate could easily be the setting for a much happier story. The estate would feel completely different, by just changing the right words. But we don’t need that for Wieland ;) .The events that take place are told by Clara Wielan [...]

    10. Adam

      A model of good manhood goes insane (or experiences a religious revelation, or is tricked by a sinister ventriloquist, or some combination of the above) and murders his family at the behest of religious visions (and/or said sinister ventriloquist), hearkening to and making ambiguous and dreadful the tale of Abraham.Things of note: * It is apparently considered the first great American novel. * It focuses on the instability of the human mind, implicitly questioning Christianity’s insistence on [...]

    11. Jenn

      Wieland, his first novel, tells the story of a religious fanatic who builds a temple in the seclusion of his own farm, but then is struck dead, apparently by spontaneous combustion. Several years later, his children, in turn, begin to hear voices around the family property, voices which alternately seem to be commanding good or evil and which at times imitate denizens of the farm. Are the voices somehow connected to a mysterious visitor who has begun hanging around? Are they commands from God? F [...]

    12. Lee Foust

      It seems appropriate that the first professional novel to come out of the United States would involve the idiocy of Christian gullibility, religious murder, and chicanery. Other than that, it was rather awkwardly written--not as good as its British inspirations--Anne Radcliffe, I think, mostly, although there was a nod to Sophia Lee's The Recess--or its American followers, Hawthorn and Poe. Still, unbelievable and clumsy as it occasionally was, it was an interesting place to spend a few hours, i [...]

    13. Joseph

      If you want to know where Lovecraft, Poe and Hawthorne were coming from, read this. THEN read "Walden". Some serious abyss-gazing going on. (Ex)puritans always seem to use the wild places as their own little rorshach blots, and when the wendigo starts looking back at them, it's usually from the mirror.

    14. Moonchild

      I can't believe I stuck it out until the end. There were a few good plot twists, a couple of creepy atmospheric scenes, and an interesting (but weakly made) moral point. But there are so many *good* gothic authors, I won't be wasting time again on this one.

    15. Bryan

      2 1/2 starsI was pretty disappointed with this one--somehow I'd picked up a different perception of what the book was going to be, but even accepting the book as it is, it still leaves quite a bit to be desired. In my mind, I imagined a creepiness factor off the charts as the book followed a man going slowly insane in the wilds of colonial America, possessed with a religious mania that convinced him to commit a horrible crime. Unfortunately, the book does not take that view, and instead focuses [...]

    16. Carolina

      I had never heard of this book until I had to read it for my Literature course. I mentioned it to a few friends too and none of them had heard of it either. This obscurity does not cease to have a puzzling effect to me, since Wieland is portrayed as the first American gothic novel. Aside from this impressive status, certain elements are so bizarre and noteworthy that, even if for nothing else, this novel should be well-known for them. I mean – spontaneous combustion! Madness! Mass murder!This [...]

    17. Rachel

      I enjoyed this book purely for the fact that it is one of the first American novels. I also appreciated the fact that it's so Gothic that it becomes simultaneously humorous and dark. It is not so over the top that you completely lose a sense of the eeriness, but the melodrama is such that you just have to laugh at certain points. Anyone who enjoys modern horror or suspense might enjoy reading this and comparing/contrasting its elements to things found in modern works of the same genre.However, t [...]

    18. J.M. Hushour

      I often have a hard time slogging through novels of this time period, late 18th-early-19th century and it's not because I don't appreciate the often-Gothic conventions. I just tend to find the prose antiquated in a way that is charmless and dry. Certainly, I can't say it's the length that gets in the way."Wieland" is a wonderful exception, and on so many levels. Sure, it's your typical "weird events in the night" scenario, dark and brooding and weird. But it stands out for being that rare novel [...]

    19. Wreade1872

      An american gothic thriller. Quite close to giving this 4 stars but it does take quite a while to get going. It was almost exactly half-way through that things finally started to get to a the point. The story builds up quite a bit of tension despite the rather formal language. It's a surprisingly modern tale in terms of its violence, i suppose other gothic works likeCastle of Otranto andVathek are violent too but its done in a much more over the top and less recognizable way. This felt in parts [...]

    20. Kristi

      "Wieland; or, the Transformation" is often considered the first American Gothic novel. Its psychologically driven horror preceded and alludes to the later refined fiction of Poe and Hawthorne. The violence and chaos of "Wieland" appeal to the excitability, wonder, and fear of a sublime aesthetic. Told in an epistolary style, the language is unwieldy, highly romanticized, and emotional. Using a character witness as the narrator of a plot about the unreliability of the physical senses, heightens B [...]

    21. Jane Story

      I was quite excited to start reading this book, actually. I sneaked a peak at some reviews and got a general idea of the plot before I started, and I was instantly intrigued.The book started out really slow. Since it was written so long ago, it was hard to understand the writing style. It got easier around halfway through, where the plot really picked up and it got really exciting. I actually didn't want to stop reading after about the halfway point. The ending was a bit of a letdown I was hopin [...]

    22. Savannah Golden

      This American Gothic novel will forever leave you comparing others to it. It is a story set in America before the Revolutionary War that accounts the terrible mishaps that happen to a German immigrant family. The story begins with the father, who has failed to convert the indigenous people to his own religion, praying in his temple when he spontaneously combusts then later dies leaving what he owns to his daughter and son. Mysterious voices are heard, followed by unexplained deaths and illnesses [...]

    23. Mark Stephenson

      How come I never heard of Brown in my American Lit. classes? This guy is a genius. Wieland is a compulsive page-turner with Clara Wieland developed into one of the most memorable female characters I know of. A couple of times it almost scared the living daylights out of me as well as impressing me by how well so many loose strands can be woven together with ingenuity.

    24. Allison Landers

      I read this book for a class in college and I just loved it. I had to stay up all night reading it before the class, but I probably would have stayed up all night reading it anyway. It was fascinating. It's a male author writing from a female perspective and I was surprised how well he did with that. Very good book.

    25. AJ

      Very difficult to read at times with archaic language and overly verbose dialogue. A very good story told poorly. I could easily see this rewritten or turned into a movie. The beginning chapters regarding the strange death of the father have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the book. I think they are only part of the story in order to set a fantastical supernatural feel for later events.

    26. David

      Interesting tale that precedes the writings of Poe and its influence upon him could well be supposed. American horror writing that at times is quite creepy, but keep a dictionary handy because each page contains one to numerous obsolete or rarely used words. Florid in language but beautiful in prose and description. A good read.

    27. Lauren

      It makes me feel good that one of the first American novels is also one of the best. What makes me sad is that this book is criminally under-read especially considering how ridiculously good it is. A squirmy and chilling read!

    28. Janet Keeten

      This early, little-known American classic should be read at night, in a dimly lit room, alone to get the full effect. However, be prepared to be scared and start hearing things in the dark. Another one of those books I was forced to read for a class--and so glad I did! Thank you professor.

    29. Jack

      A Gothic novel about ventriloquism? That's just about the best idea ever. Wieland has the added benefit of a whole lot of early American religious mania. The way Brown depicts the narrator's mental state as the novel progresses is genius.

    30. Sean Saxe

      One of the first American Gothic novels, Wieland is a dark story which I found to be quite a quick and exciting read. The book takes relatively mundane events and transforms them into a wonderfully shocking tale.

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