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Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly: Sleepwalking through the Wildeness

Charles Brockden Brown, living between the 18th and 19th century, occupies an important position in the creation of an American Gothic fiction. Slightly influenced by the European tradition, he deliberately uses the scenery and the incidents of his own country. This intention is made clear in Brown’s preface to Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-walker, his fourth novel, which is set on the frontier edge of civilization. As the subtitle suggests, sleepwalking creates some of the most effective scenes in the novel, and it is connected with the American wilderness and the misunderstanding of reality. Since most of the events take place during the night, this novel will turn out to be Brown’s interpretation of American life as an uncontrollable nightmare, where the terrific is embodied by the brutal Indian. The savages (which are not only the Indians) and the natural setting, generate the cumulative terror which gives the main tone to this Gothic novel. But Edgar Huntly is also permeated by a sense of confusion and ambivalence, concerning the self and the other characters.

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America has opened new views to the naturalist and politician, but has seldome furnished themes to the moral painter. That new springs of action, and new motives to curiosity should operate; that the field of investigation, opened to us by our own country, should differ essentially from those which exist in Europe, may be readily conceived. The sources of amusement to the fancy and instruction to the heart, that are peculiar to ourselves, are equally numerous and inexhaustible. It is the purpose of this work to profit by some of these sources; to exhibit a series of adventures, growing out of the condition of our country, and connected with one of the most common and most wonderful diseases or affections of the human frame. 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 uperstition and exploded manners; Gothic castles and chimeras, are the materials usually employed for this end. The incidents of Indian hostility, and the perils of the western wilderness, are far more suitable; and, for a native of America to overlook these, would admit of no apology. 1. An Emergent National Culture Brown’s prefatory “To the Public”of Edgar Huntly, argues that it is the work of a “moral painter”. The novel is original in that it avoids the Gothic machinery of medieval castles and superstitions to trace instead adventures “growing out of the condition of our country” and the “perils of the western wilderness” 1 . 1 NORMAN S. GRABO, Introduction to Edgar Huntly or Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker, New York, Penguin Books, 1988, p. xv-xvi

Tesi di Laurea

Facoltà: Lingue e Letterature Straniere

Autore: Giorgia Fantini Contatta »

Composta da 110 pagine.

 

Questa tesi ha raggiunto 897 click dal 20/03/2004.

 

Consultata integralmente una volta.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.