Edgar Huntly or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker by Charles Brockden BrownOne of the first American Gothic novels, Edgar Huntly (1787) mirrors the social and political temperaments of the postrevolutionary United States.
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By Charles Brockden Brown. Edited by Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, The striking painting by a French artist on the cover of this American novel signals the editors' refreshing approach to Edgar Huntly through trans-Atlantic discourses of empire, radical-democratic social theory, sensibility, and sexuality. An arrow penetrates Sebastian's other arm, suggesting the damage that war inflicts on bodies and the role of aboriginal peoples in European conflicts, both of which trouble Edgar Huntly, the protagonist of Brown's novel.
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In his early twenties he committed himself to literature and avidly read the latest models from England and Europe—especially Rousseau, Bage, Godwin, Southey, and Coleridge. By Brown was earnestly devoted to fiction; once engaged, he composed at a breakneck pace, publishing between and seven romances, a long pro-feminist dialogue, and numerous sketches and tales. All four are remarkably sophisticated moral, psychological, and political allegories that burned into the artistic consciousness of Poe, Hawthorne, Fenimore Cooper, and Melville. By the s, a decade after his death, Brown was ranked with Washington Irving and Fenimore Cooper as the embodiment of American literary genius, the first American writer to successfully bridge the gulf between entertainment and art in fiction. Norman S. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Perhaps what makes this novel notable from his other gothic fiction is the content of its preface. In the preface, Brown explains the uniqueness of the American gothic as compared to the European gothic. In separating the American from the European gothic, he states,. One merit the writer may at least claim; that of calling forth the passions and engaging the sympathy of the reader, by means hitherto unemployed by preceding authors. Puerile superstition and exploded manners; Gothic castles and chimeras, are the materials usually employed for this end.
Edgar Huntly, a young man who lives with his uncle and sisters his only remaining family on a farm outside Philadelphia , is determined to learn who murdered his friend Waldegrave. Walking near the elm tree under which Waldegrave was killed late one night, Huntly sees Clithero, a servant from a neighboring farm, half-dressed, digging in the ground and weeping loudly. Huntly concludes that Clithero may be the murderer. He also concludes that Clithero is sleepwalking. Huntly decides to follow Clithero when he sleep walks.