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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $15.00
  • December 2010
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93253-9
  • 592 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist

Norton Critical Editions


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Charles Brockden Brown (Author), Bryan Waterman (Editor, New York University)


The first gothic novel in America, Wieland (1798) is now available in a Norton Critical Edition.

Wieland, the story of religious delusions and horrific violence on the eve of the American Revolution, is the first gothic novel in America and a cornerstone of the Early American literary canon. A family living on an estate outside Philadelphia is visited first by a set of mysterious voices, seemingly coming out of thin air, followed soon after by an itinerant rustic named Carwin. Violence erupts when the family’s young patriarch believes he hears God’s voice demanding a human sacrifice as a sign of faith. Testing the limits of religious and literary authority in the new United States, Brown’s novel has for more than two centuries kept readers debating questions of agency, accountability, and revolutionary politics as the story’s moral chaos unfolds. The editor provides explanatory annotation throughout the volume.

This Norton Critical Edition also reprints Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist, Brown’s fragmentary sequel to Wieland. “Sources and Contexts” presents inspirations for Brown’s work, including an account of the real-life Yates family murders, an excerpt from Christoph Martin Wieland’s The Trial of Abraham, as well as religious and medical accounts of delusion, spontaneous combustion, and ventriloquism. Brown’s outline for Wieland and his letter to Thomas Jefferson are also reprinted.

“Criticism” includes contemporary responses to the novel from both the United States and the United Kingdom along with fourteen essential modern critical approaches. Recent contributors include Shirley Samuels, Christopher Looby, Nancy Ruttenberg, Laura Korobkin, David Kazanjian, Bryan Waterman, and Stephen Shapiro, among others.

A Chronology and a Selected Bibliography are also included.



    • A Note on the Texts

    The Texts of Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist

    Sources and Contexts

    • Chistoph Martin Wieland • From The Trial of Abraham
    • William Godwin • From Enquiry Concerning Political Justice
    • Anonymous • [The Yates Family Murders]
    • Erasmus Darwin • From Zoonomia; or, The Laws of Organic Life
    • Samuel Latham Mitchill • [On the Illusions of the Human Senses]
    • Anonymous • [A Case of Spontaneous Combustion]
    • Dobson’s Encyclopaedia • “Ventriloquism”
    • John Robison • From Proofs of a Conspiracy
    • Timothy Dwight • From The Duty of Americans, at the Present Crisis
    • Charles Brockden Brown • Outline for Wieland
    • Charles Brockden Brown • Letter to Thomas Jefferson, December 15, 1798



    • William Dunlap • From The Life of Charles Brockden Brown
    • Anonymous • [On Brown’s Novels]
    • Anonymous • [Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine on Brown, I]
    • Anonymous • [Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine on Brown, II]
    • Anonymous • Brown’s Novels—Wieland


    • Bernard Rosenthal • The Voices of Wieland
    • Walter Hesford • “Do You Know the Author?” The Question of Authorship in Wieland
    • Edwin Sill Fussell • Wieland: A Literary and Historical Reading
    • Shirley Samuels • [Patriarchal Violence, Federalist Panic, and Wieland]
    • Christopher Looby  • [Ciceronian Elocution in Wieland]
    • Paul Downes • Constitutional Secrets: “Memoirs of Carwin” and the Politics of Concealment
    • Nancy Ruttenburg • [The Voice of the People in Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin]
    • Leigh Eric Schmidt • [Enlightenment, Ventriloquism, and Wieland]
    • Laura H. Korobkin • Murder by Madman: Criminal Responsibility, Law, and Judgment in Wieland
    • Edward Cahill • [Brown’s Politics of Imagination]
    • David Kazanjian • [White Settler Colonialism in Memoirs of Carwin]
    • Ed White • Carwin the Peasant Rebel
    • Bryan Waterman • [The Illuminati Scare, Social Authority, and Brown’s Fiction]
    • Stephen Shapiro • [Wieland’s Political Romance and the History of Subjectivity]
    • Charles Brockden Brown: A Chronology

    Selected Bibliography