(1771-1810) The first US professional author. His most famous work, Wieland, or The Transformation: An American Tale (1798), like all his other Gothic romances (see Gothic Fantasy), is a Rationalized Fantasy: it offers a naturalistic explanation for events that seemed supernatural; e.g., the eponymous Wieland, obsessed by voices which instruct him ritually to exterminate his family, may have in fact been deluded by a ventriloquist (see Ventriloquism). CBB is perhaps of more importance for his transmutation of the US wilderness, in a novel like Arthur Mervyn (1798-1799), into a hallucinated Labyrinth-like Landscape; and for his extremely early use of a City like Philadelphia, in the same novel, in passages that convey a sense of genuine Urban Fantasy. His influence on 19th-century writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe was very considerable. [JC]
other works: Alcuin: A Dialogue (1798); Edgar Huntly, or Memoirs of a Sleepwalker (1799); Ormond, or The Secret Witness (1799).
Charles Brockden Brown