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Wieland; Or the Transformation and Memoirs of Carwin, the Biloquist
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Wieland; Or the Transformation and Memoirs of Carwin, the Biloquist

3.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,029 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
One of the earliest major American novels, Wieland (1798) is a thrilling tale of suspense and intrigue set in rural Pennsylvania in the 1760s. Based on an actual case of a New York farmer who murdered his family, the novel employs Gothic devices and sensational elements such as spontaneous combustion, ventriloquism, and religious fanaticism. Also included is Memoirs of Car ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 4th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1798)
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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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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, 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
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
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
Feb 09, 2016 Shelley rated it liked it
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
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
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
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!
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.
Jan 10, 2016 Stephany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally re-read this, one of my undergrad favorites. Wieland is an American Gothic hallmark and, as I read it, I was reminded how indebted Tartt's "The Little Friend" is to Wieland (Harriet, like Clara Wieland, is unreliable and possibly mad). But the unreliability of Wieland's narrator has more facets that give Wieland the flavor of a good who-done-it, right up to the very last line. I also found the fact that Clara (like so many 18th century female narrators) moralizes ironic and a little bit ...more
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
Mar 08, 2014 Briana rated it it was ok
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
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
Oct 02, 2007 Andy rated it really liked it
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
Elizabeth Rogers
This novel is creepy as hell and one of the weirdest Gothic novels I've read (which says a lot). If you like creepy (like sleep with your doors blocked and lights on creepy), then you should most definitely read this. Brockden Brown is one of the most under-rated American authors of his time who helped usher in amd establish the American Gothic.
Jun 19, 2015 Raik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, published in 1798 and getting 5/5 from me. Why? Because it is a narrative of spaces; How does a Puritan settlement work? What is the territory to be crossed before you can attract a third pair of eyes to a situation, that otherwise would get the best of you? And what is the space between suspiciousness and insanity?
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
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
Jan 29, 2016 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I began this book because it was assigned for a course in American Gothic fiction. I finished it because it engaged me with potent implications about the communities we create, the expectations we place upon those with whom we live, and the diabolical possibilities where we least expect them.
Feb 01, 2011 Allison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: required
The language of this story, as well as the narrator's (& author's?) need to share every little detail, made this story a slow read. The story is a little skewed since the narrator gives every detail about Latin pronunciations or plays the group puts on, but glosses over the scary parts of who's hiding in her closet. The ending is a deus ex machina, and a major letdown as far as whodunit goes. I guess this can be looked past, since it IS the first American mystery, but it's not worth the read ...more
Nov 10, 2007 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Wieland is a surprisingly good gothic fiction. One of the better reads encountered in a university setting. A well off family encounters an unknown of supernatural proportions. Unique psychological interpretations of otherwise rational individuals prove interesting and destructive. The female narrator is a far cry from your typical female in distress associated with a gothic horror piece, especially in the period it was written. There are many ways to interpret Browns book but I can't help but c ...more
Alex Detillio
There are really, really great moments of suspense and a few really good turns of phrase and word uses. However, the overall plot and story gets incredibly bogged down with too much detail and personal narrative explaining every last feeling towards every last movement of almost every character. Understandable to a degree, but as not much actually happens throughout this novel, it taking almost 300 pages is ridiculous. Numerous times I felt myself very disengaged and had to re-read pages. These ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carwin's motives leave something to be desired, and the overall mystery needs more clarity, but this is a damn fine gothic novel. It also raises interesting and relevant questions about the limitations of reason, xenophobia, the problems with reading/theater, and justice/the law.
Chris Herdt
I have no idea how I acquired this book. The only reason I kept it around it because I thought it was Byron's Werner, which I had further mistaken for Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. It's all of the W's, you see, that had me confused.

Set on the Schuylkill banks just outside Philadelphia, Wieland is apparently one of America's earlier novels. It is filled with horror, mystery, and suspense--much of which is spoiled by both the back cover of the book and the introduction. Perhaps they expec
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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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