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Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  1,141 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
A terrifying account of the fallibility of the human mind and, by extension, of democracy itself, "Wieland" brilliantly reflects the psychological, social, and political concerns of the early American republic. In the fragmentary sequel, "Memoirs," Brown explores Carwin's bizarre history as a manipulated disciple of the charismatic utopian Ludloe.
ebook, 416 pages
Published February 1st 1991 by Penguin Books (first published 1798)
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Community Reviews

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Oscar
Resulta curioso que la primera novela norteamericana, se encuadre dentro del gótico americano, y además pertenezca a la corriente del Psycho Killer, la literatura de psicópatas, que ha llegado hasta nuestros días. Escrita en 1798, ‘Wieland, o la Transformación’ (Wieland; or, The Transformation), está escrita por Charles Brockden Brown, considerado el primer escritor profesional americano, y fue la precursora de una corriente que va a llevar a Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, y ...more
Shawn
I read WIELAND: OR THE TRANSFORMATION for different reasons than I think the majority will read it. I'll bet a lot of people read it because it's a very early example of the "American Novel". Most are probably assigned it for a class. Perhaps some read it because of interest in a particular aspect (religious mania, biloquisim as portrayed in popular culture...God knows). I read it as part of a general overview I've taken on of the Gothic novel and so, being a "root of American Gothic" novel, her ...more
Tamara
Jul 30, 2008 Tamara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I must note that this one is an acquired taste, as it is pretty dark, but I enjoyed it for its originality. Think 19th century X-files - spontaneous human combustion and all (though not aliens!). Mysterious, sometimes frightening and serious - also must read "Memoirs" as it is critical to "Wieland" and not just an addendum.
Marlin Elina
Sep 07, 2015 Marlin Elina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, uni-books
Phew, glad that one is over. I mean, it's not like the story is bad. It's actually quite atmospheric and creepy. But the narration... oh dear. The writing just does nothing to recommend this book to the reader whatsoever. In the beginning, I didn't mind it, but as I kept on going I found it more and more off-putting. I have yet to find an 18th century novel that I like.
J.G. Keely
One thing which defines the Gothic movement is a ponderous and measured movement. Scenes and events are allowed to unfold minutely, creating tone not with a word, but with a constant and inexorable movement. This allows the author to subtly ease the reader into a strange and consuming world without relying overmuch on symbols and archetypes.

The world of Wieland is strange, and neurotically consuming, but Brown's wealth of words are more overstimulating than engrossing. To paraphrase Mark Twain's
...more
Mike
Sep 04, 2016 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mfa
Dude couldn't really write, but an interesting book nevertheless.
Dina
Apr 09, 2008 Dina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
One of the earliest American novels ever written, Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland is a deeply dark novel, at times containing scenes of such terror and violence that I can see why Edgar Allen Poe would find inspiration here. It is Gothic, romantic, mysterious...it is a duel between the spiritual and logical, and if you ask me, I think the author takes the side of logic. Often when the start of the American novel is discussed, James Fenimore Cooper is usually the first name to come up. Why is it ...more
Stephanie
Feb 06, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: class-readings
Without a lot of time for this review, I'll just sort of have to make some quick comments:

The actual events in this book were entertaining enough (if not completely ridiculous, but the author continually resorts to the excuse of these resulting from various "phenomena"). I understand the reasoning behind Wieland's position in the history of American literature, and for that I give credit where it is due. However: I was so frustrated by the characters that during my reading, my "margin notes" wer
...more
Hilary Scharper
Nov 13, 2014 Hilary Scharper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a most unusual read in terms of my ventures into the gothic genre—in this case early American gothic—but it was utterly absorbing! Originally published in 1798, it has many of the literary conventions of the period and to contemporary reader, the prose can seem very purple (!), but the story is compelling and indeed disturbing. The story's dark events are based on a true 18th century incident and the scenario is by no means unfamiliar the 21st century. Very chilling!

Additionally, for th
...more
Lauren Albert
Despite the fact that I think Brown is a terrible writer, I wrote my dissertation on him. The reason is simple--his novels are fascinating in how they reflect the time he lived in. I was writing about him almost exactly 200 years after he wrote his novels. and the parallels between the two periods are amazing--a desperate seeking for a foundation to build trust on, a fear of strangers, a doubt about the truthfulness of appearances and experiences. I found it all strangely fascinating and his nov ...more
Brianne
I only read Wieland. I might go back and read Memoirs of Carwin, but that'll be after the semester.

This book was surprisingly good. There was a lot of drama, and suspense and characters with A LOT of flaws, which all made for an interesting read! I even think I'll read more by this author.

I'd recommend it!
Robert Muir
I'm afraid I've read just about enough gothic novels. Also, the author of this one seems to introduce new characters and events only as a way to advance the plot or make it make sense when necessary.
Burak Eren
Nov 12, 2013 Burak Eren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It starts off as plain boring then gets super exciting and ends with an unexpected ending (not in a big shocky way)
Chris Schaeffer
Jul 26, 2012 Chris Schaeffer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably legitimately the best book ever written on North American soil, or at least in Chester County.
Keely *Keelskilo*
It's the fact that I actually found this a solid book that reminds me why I'm such a divergent reader....



Seriously, reading this book and actually enjoying it was like the punctuation on this strange time in my life where I can't get on Facebook or else be depressed by all the American political shit on there and now I can't get on Goodreads either because I'll be depressed by how highly people are rating books that I...

Well, to be honest, I think they're just plain terrible.



The only consolatio
...more
Sarah Fraser
Technical writing was garbage and the ending was gimmicky and stupid. Had to read Wieland for a class-- otherwise, I would have bailed long before finishing it. 180 pages of needlessly dense prose, a simperingly dumb narrator, and a plot with the strength of a twice-used tea sachet. 2/5, would not recommend.

Lisa
Apr 28, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Potter's School Classical Track Year 3
Published in 1789, this is considered the first gothic American novel.

Clara Wieland, the narrator, lives an idyllic, aristocratic life with her brother, his wife, and their mutual friend, Pleyel, in rural Pennsylvania in the 1760s. In the midst of their life of leisure, they are beset by a series of mysterious, supernatural events: Clara's father suddenly dies due to an explosion of inexplicable origins; Clara, her brother, and Pleyel hear, at various times, disembodied voices that utter warning
...more
Briana
Mar 08, 2014 Briana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This review is also posted at Pages Unbound Book Reviews.

Wieland may be of interest to students of early American literature or of Gothic novels, but I am going to go out on a limb (actually, forget that; it probably isn’t a risk) and say that the book does not have a lot of mass market appeal. Even avid classics fans may find it a bit dry.

As is typical with much early American writing, Wieland is lacking the type of strong, fast-paced plot that we often associate with good modern literature. Wh
...more
John Pistelli
An early American novel--perhaps the most famous one--about a family destroyed by mysterious voices that come out of the air with warnings and commands. Narrated in plainspoken prose by Clara, the sister of the titular Weiland, the novel depicts a family attempting to devote itself to the reasonable discourse befitting a young republic; they regularly gather in a neo-classical-style temple with a bust of Cicero in the center. (But the temple was designed by their father, a religious fanatic immi ...more
Samara
Oct 30, 2013 Samara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, 2011
Title: Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale

Author: Charles Brockden Brown

Published: 1798

Year I read it: 2009, 2011

One sentence summary: An epistolary, gothic, Colonial-American novel, this is the tragic story penned by Clara Wieland, detailing her father and, later, brother's descent into religious fanaticism and of the voices they hear - voices from the divine, from madness, or from the strange, visiting Carwin?

Interesting fact: Considered by many to be the first significant novel
...more
Andy
Oct 02, 2007 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readownedloved
I'm not good at star ratings, if you haven't figured that out by now. Does this book warrant a five star rating in the way that I feel Cloud Atlas, or the Interpreters, or Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, would? Probably not, but in context, I think it does.

Few people whom I have met or talked shop (about books) with have even heard of Charles Brockden Brown, or Wieland, and The Transformation and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist. It's a long title because it's actually two works in this volume. The f
...more
Shelley
This novel is important historically, since Brown was one of the first American novelists of the early Republic. The book, however, stinks even by late eighteenth century over the top Gothic fiction standards (which is how I'm rating it). Brown was critical of European Gothic fiction, and thus Wieland has a "rational" explanation for his crimes, if you're willing to buy it. It would be spoilers to say how. Brown was trying to prove the value of a novel in a society that both devoured them and co ...more
Maye
Sep 11, 2016 Maye rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick review: Charles Brockeden Brown probably didn't have an editor to help him with the consistency of the novel. I feel this is definitely a book someone would need to read a few times to fully understand what is happening. The book was also riddled with tropes and styles of the time, however, I still found the book enjoyable... even though I'm still a little confused. An entertaining, early American horror story.
Jessica Merrill
This is just one American's take on the European-originated Gothic style of writing, and I had some interest while reading it. I do like creepy stories and all that. And though while not my favorite Gothic novel I've read, this is still better than Wuthering Heights in my opinion. You'll definitely see what would later influence later works of the genre, though, in here.

I thought the story was a little bit padded and had some pacing issues. Mostly...why so much emphasis on the little spat betwee
...more
Heather
Sep 11, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
A Gothic novel written in the early years of the United States of America. I never usually like classic novels aside from the Great Gatsby and Animal Farm, so I was surprised to find myself liking this novel quite a bit. It had a sort of creepy feeling to it and reminded me of The Shining. The ending is a bit confusing and unexpected but still good. I'd suggest this to anyone who is new to reading classics as it has a modern day horror movie feel to it.
Anna C
I don't have too much experience with Gothic literature, ("Frakenstein" is pretty much the extent of my exposure) and I don't think anyone outside of an American post-revolutionary literature class has ever heard of "Wieland." I went in with rather low expectations, as the last book the class read was total garbage, but I was pleasantly surprised. "Wieland" is a very nice Gothic tale, and a perfectly spooky read for Halloween!

That being said, I believe "Wieland" is nothing more than a spooky, Go
...more
Jesse Young
Sep 13, 2016 Jesse Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rip Louisa conway
Bookarcana
Apr 09, 2016 Bookarcana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were really only two parts of this text I found worth reading, the confession chapter of Wieland and Memoirs.

As gothic/horror, what was really interesting about these books was very "feminine," if you will. The threat against Clara and Carwin are (probably) just men--not even that, just a man--a man who has complete control over your life and your future. Society turns both of them away and makes them alone,

(***minor spoilers***)

Clara because she isn't told about her family's history of
...more
Cynthia
Jan 27, 2009 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brown's American gothic novels should be so much better known than they are and he could easily lay claim to being the US's first novelist of distinction. Wieland is possibly his strongest novel though the excellent Arthur Mervyn was my introduction to him.

The book poses the question of how far rational, Enlightenment principles can prevail when we are always pray to our inner demons and darkness, especially in the new country known as America. Lest this sound too philosophical the book begins w
...more
Peter Law
Jun 19, 2008 Peter Law rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely mind-blowing. Generally considered the first novel written by a native-born American. An amazing metaphor for the nature of democracy (written about 20 years after the American Revolution) and whether or not it can actually work, in the guise of a Gothic novel. A mysterious ventriloquist (or "biloquist," as the word was then) seems to wreak havoc amongst a highly intelligent family. The inference: In a democracy, do the people essentially give up their "voices" to an elected politicia ...more
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Charles Brockden Brown (January 17, 1771 – February 22, 1810), an American novelist, historian, and editor of the Early National period, is generally regarded by scholars as the most ambitious and accomplished US novelist before James Fenimore Cooper. He is the most frequently studied and republished practitioner of the "early American novel," or the US novel between 1789 and roughly 1820. Althoug ...more
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