Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On Charles Brockden Brown

The ever-alert Joyce at Bibliophile Bullpen notes that today marks the birthday of Charles Brockden Brown, widely recognized as the first American novelist (it's also Ben Franklin's 301st birthday; I remarked on his tricentenary last year so will give today's musings over to Brown).

Brown, born in 1771, is best known for "Americanizing" the Gothic genre of writing - shaping the European style into a distinctly American form (substituting caves and dark forests for the haunted castles, &c.). His Wieland (1798) is a fascinatingly strange tale of psychological mayhem that holds up well even after more than two centuries. I first read it in an Early American Lit class and have enjoyed it several times since.

Lots of Brown links and information here and here.