Item description for Wieland: Or the Transformation: An American Tale by James P. Lynch Charles Brockden Brown...
A shadow falls over the Enlightenment when a stranger pays a visit in this tale of one family's slide down the slippery slope of reality. Featuring spontaneous combustion, demonic ventriloquism, murder and madness, Wieland offers a wealth of high weirdness for fans of the paranormal. The Invisible College Press is pleased to resurrect this forgotten classic of dark literature.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.54" Width: 4.86" Height: 0.8" Weight: 1.02 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2001
Publisher Invisible College Press
ISBN 1931468028 ISBN13 9781931468022
Availability 129 units. Availability accurate as of Feb 21, 2017 06:25.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Wieland: Or the Transformation: An American Tale?
Gothic goodness, transplanted Sep 18, 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.
I HATED IT! Mar 5, 2006
In short, I HATED this book. But really, that's not fair. I shouldn't say that because even though I was 'forced' to read it for an English class, I never made it through. I think I got about 30 pages into it after maybe a week or two of trying to get involved with it. All to no avail. I hated every minute, and I wish the teacher had never assigned it.
I believe that there is a reason the name "Charles Brockden Brown" isn't nearly the household name that "Ernest Hemingway" or "Shakespeare" is.
Great Gothic! Jun 15, 2005
I had never heard of Charles Brockden Brown before, until I picked up an anthology entitled _American Gothic Tales_. The excerpt from this novel intrigued and horrified me enough that I had to read the entire story. I wasn't disappointed. Ghosts, mysterious voices that drive completely pleasant, complacent people to do mad things - I read the whole thing in a few hours. His storytelling is reminescent of Poe, although that is incorrect to say, as Brown came first. A shame that no one hears about Brown, as he is definitely a classic.
Four stars out of five, because I did not care for the epilogue; it feels a little tacked on.
A Classic of American Gothic Horror Oct 1, 2001
Charles Brockden Brown's importance in the field of American literature is indisputably very high; thus, how unfortunate it is that his works are so unknown to us today. Were it not for H.P. Lovecraft's mention of him in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," I myself would remain ignorant of his very existence. Brown is arguably the father of the American novel, a brave pioneer in the era of the early Republic. This man set upon himself the noble purpose of writing fiction for a living, going against the wishes of his family and the dictates of contemporary society. Had there been no Charles Brockden Brown, there may never have been a Poe--at least, not Poe as we know him today.
The story is an Americanized Gothic romance. The spirit of Gothic literature pervades the tale, but the setting has been transferred from old castles and courtly settings to a recognizably American rural landscape which is preeminently beautiful rather than spooky. The horrors described so effectively by Brown are borne in the minds of the characters. The female protagonist Clara narrates the tortured history of her family. Her father dies mysteriously, perhaps by spontaneous combustion, ostensibly due to his failure to follow God's will in his life. She enjoys a happy adult life with her brother and his wife until a stranger named Carwin appears and quickly becomes a part of their inner circle. Carwin eventually becomes Clara's tormentor. She, her brother, and their mutual friend Pleyel all hear mysterious, unexplained voices warning them of danger and imparting fateful news on several occasions. Her brother, deeply religious like his father, is greatly affected by these phenomena--how much so we learn later in the novel. Carwin fatefully destroys Clara's life when his evil designs paint her as a harlot in Pleyel's eye. Her unrequited love for Pleyel is now met with his condemnation of her--the agony of the charges against her is particularly poignant in the early American era in which the story takes place. On the fateful night, she discovers Carwin hiding in her home, and he admits to having had murderous designs on her. Her sorrows are greatly magnified the following day by the murder of her brother's wife and five children by none other than her own beloved brother. She blames Carwin for having influenced her brother to commit murder, but we later learn that dementia itself is almost surely to blame for her brother's wrongs. Before the tale ends, she faces a confrontation with both Carwin and her murderous brother, an experience which she is fortunate to survive.
The tale itself is wonderful. The suspense Brown draws out and continually heightens is first-rate. Clara's encounters with voices and human spirits hidden in the darkness of her bedroom are spine-tingling. The language of the novel does make it a work that requires some concentration on the part of the reader and may serve to frustrate some, but I think it greatly magnifies the horrific aspects of the tale. The dialogues of the actors are admittedly overdramatic and drawn out. No one speaks in this book; rather, everyone makes speeches. The protagonist often resorts to long laments of her great woe and asks how she can possibly go on with the story. Despite such dramatics on her part, though, Clara is clearly a brave, independent woman (reflecting Brown's strong and admirable commitment to the rights of women). Overall, the tale delivers a buffet of the passive voice style of writing, which I for one refuse not to love; even the most unimportant sentences are graced with a flowery, beautiful aspect.
In terms of the Gothic element to the story, one cannot say that the supernatural aspects are wholly disproved in the end--to some extent they are, but not to such an extent that Wieland's murderous actions can be explained by them. Clearly, Wieland did hear voices other than those made by Carwin the biloquist. The air of mystery that remains about Wieland's dementia and the causes of it makes the ending more successful than I feared it would be once I learned of the power of ventriloquism exercised by Carwin to dictate many of the related events. My only complaint is with the final chapter, which is basically an epilogue in the protagonist's journal. Inexplicably, it introduces a new character to explain something about a minor character whom I frankly could not even remember.
The first solid American novel Aug 14, 2000
Charles Brockden Brown has been almost completely forgotten today. Unlike the more famous James Fenimore Cooper, who is often accorded the title of the first American novelist that Brown should bear, Brown's reputation is largely borne up by those few literary critics who love the earliest roots of American fiction. "Wieland" is Brown's best novel, and still quite readable today as a Gothic novel (although the secret of the villain seems rather mundane today, as the 'power' he exhibits has been played largely for laughs since the days of vaudeville and radio). Brown was born in Philadelphia in 1771, trained in the law, was one of the first to try and make a living as a writer in the early years of the American republic, and died young in 1810. If you like Gothic novels, or you have a passion for early American literature, you will enjoy "Wieland." Myself, I prefer him to Cooper, who has been forever rendered laughable in my mind by Mark Twain's hilarious essays on Cooper's literary sins.