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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.


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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.

30 review for Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist

  1. 4 out of 5

    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 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, here it was and so I read... I'm going to reverse my usual approach to these things and give my opinion first, because what little joy can be gleaned from reading WIELAND comes from it's surprises and I'll probably give those meager joys away. So, should a casual reader read WIELAND? No, not really. The central idea is interesting but (and please know that I am quite an apologist for older writing styles) - the writing is enervating and the story not too well told. You could spend your time on much better stuff, unless you have a particular interest. Okay, so, that out of the way, WIELAND is famous for being an American Gothic novel - why? Because, let's see, the main characters' father spontaneously combusts in the first chapter - and this isn't any Dickens "they found nothing but a heap of ash", after-the-fact kind of thing. He goes to worship in his specially built temple in the hills north of Philadelphia and pretty much explodes violently. His burned body is found. We never know why he exploded. This is unimportant to the main plot, really, or at least unrelated in a factual sense. The father is a religious oddball, so that may have some tonal import. Then comes the second Gothic aspect. The book proper is about Clara Wieland and her brother Theodore and how they are plagued by occasional voices from nowhere, and how the sister is both attracted to and repelled by an odd but charismatic and beautifully voiced young man named Francis Carwin. These voices cause much wonderment and get our narrator, sister Clara, into a pretty pickle of suppositions about her reputation and entertaining men at odd hours and many misunderstandings are fretted over and speechified about. Clara thinks there is something odd about Carwin, and finds evidence that he is possibly a murderer. Then, suddenly, brother Theodore kills his entire family because he hears the voice of God telling him to (wife and 5 kids!). There is no forewarning. Theodore also wants to kill Clara and Carwin because God tells him to and he is not at all sorry about his mass bloodshed. Then Carwin reveals to Clara that he can throw his voice with amazing accuracy (he is an expert mimic and also, wait for it... a Biloquist, which is to say he is a Ventriloquist without a dummy) and has been the source of all the mysterious voices, except he DID NOT cause Theodore to hear some divine, homicidal voice. Then Theodore, who is roaming the countryside, traps them in a room. Then the book ends. Then, 40-odd pages later, the book actually ends. Coincidences abound. There is much flowery and high-falutin' talk about reputations and respect and love and such (Clara loses her dashing young boyfriend, but that's okay, she regains him in the extended ending). As the introduction by Fred Lewis Pattee states (even while trying to rehabilitate Brown's reputation), the writing is poor: sloppy and overly embellished. The wind doesn't just blow, "nature signs her resignation through her sweetest of voicings, spreading melancholy across the fair land even as she caresses the cheek of..." and on and on with much effulgence. And I usually have a pretty high tolerance for this tommyrot, as I try to place writing in its proper time period. Even worse, Brown changed his mind about the plot halfway through, so Carwin isn't evil, he's just misunderstood and, in a twist relatable to American classic CALEB WILLIAMS, under the control of some evil man (never seen). Unfortunately, this leaves all kinds of details from earlier in the book either hanging as red herrings (drying in the salty, literary wind) or hastily wound up in a totally botched extended ending. Poo! Carwin is kind of interesting as a character. Much has been made of the book's focus on Brother Theodore's religious mania, and that's also pretty well done and frightening (he evidences no traces of insanity, but Carwin's misguided tricks drive him crazy). Not really noted, as far as I can tell, is that Carwin is also, essentially, a creepy stalker fixated on Clara, going into her house and bedroom when she's not there, reading her diary, hiding in her enormous closet, sticking his head through the window to cast his voice to her. Creepy stalker is Carwin. Oh, and about that last part - ventriloquism is essentially treated as superpower in this book. It has nothing to do with not moving your lips or animating a little man made of cork to distract people into thinking your voice is coming from somewhere else as you drink a glass of water and say "I vant a gottle of geer". No, if you are in a house or even wandering the countryside (and you happen to be an expert mimic as well), your target will hear the voice you cast right next to them, even when they're alone, JUST AS IF YOU ARE SPEAKING IN THEIR EAR. If you are Carwin, you can even mimic the sounds of a rampaging crowd or animals. Crazy! As noted, Brown changed gears mightily about halfway through writing the book. At some point, Carwin was going to explain to Clara why he was doing what he was doing (other than being a creepy stalker) in the first place, but that chapter got so big that Brown broke it off and published it separately as a serial called MEMOIRS OF CARWIN THE BILOQUIST - and that's appended to the end of the book. It's a little more fun than WEILAND, especially as it unconvincingly tells us how young Carwin first learns of his amazing ability whilst looking for a lost cow on his father's farm in the Lehigh valley. Later, Carwin, a bit of a shirk-a-work, lives with his rich old aunt and gets indolent, tricking people by telling them his well-trained dog can talk. Then, the story proper starts and Carwin is taken under the wing of the mysterious Ludloe, a seemingly beneficent and well-traveled man who appears to be training Carwin for something - but what? Indoctrination into some vast secret society, it appears, through which he can help all of mankind. But Carwin can never tell anyone of the existence of the society under pain of death (and destruction to whomever he told - isn't it always the way). But Carwin is unsure - Ludloe asks him to romance and marry a wealthy Irish women under the pretense of cataloging her late husband's archeological ephemera. Should he accept? Should he tell Ludloe about his amazing power? Might Ludloe know already and is waiting to see if Carwin doesn't tell him, thus proving his disloyalty and ending Carwin's life? And why does Ludloe have a strange map of some mysterious and remote island nation on his bookshelf, where rivers and town are marked but nothing is named? Who are the secret society? What are their goals? Too bad we'll never know - Brown never finished it. I'm not sure, but I expect the answers would have been long-winded, overwrought and disappointing, regardless.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alina

    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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    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 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 critique of Cooper, the author throws his entire force against every action, treating a momentary aside with the same gravity and complexity as a climactic revelation. As the seminal American novelist, Brown left behind a literary philosophy evident in both Cooper and Hawthorne: never use five words where twenty will do. Brown's contemporary, Jane Austen, utilized a similar formality of speech, and with it exerted careful control over sprawling tales of minute human conflict. But Austin was a master of tone and character, and filled her plots with intrigue. Brown's characters are shallow, melodramatic, and as dumb or brilliant as the plot requires. The plot itself meanders around the pretentious, flawed narrator, and the construction and pacing leave much to be desired. Brown sets up impossible mysteries which build and build until some deus ex machina enters and explains it all in a flurry of exposition. We then find that the mystery was entirely red herrings and the explanation relies on what I'd call 'plot magic'. In such cases, instead of an actual human solution, we are told it was done by a wizard, or a hypnotist, or some other agency that was both impossible to guess and never foreshadowed. This is also why JK Rowling will never succeed at her wish to write 'adult mysteries'. This is the chief difference between Austen and Brown's styles: her plots hinge on the same emotional drama that her characters constantly spout, while Brown's is entirely divorced from the constant whirlwind of tears, fainting, and madness that his unlucky characters inhabit. Looking on his characters from the present, they may seem to have an air of sophistication and intelligence, but they are really just goofy dorks. We must recall that arguing the particulars of Cicero was the 17th century equivalent of discussing different classes in WOW. They are ultimately idle, eccentric, and self-involved, producing nothing of worth. So we have a lady writing about a handful of dorky homebodies weeping over an unsolvable mystery in a guilelessly complex hand. It is sometimes interesting for its sheer ridiculousness, and for its period, but it is more notable as a gothic influence than as a stand-alone work.

  5. 4 out of 5

    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 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 novels strikingly modern, even post-modern in their concerns.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Dude couldn't really write, but an interesting book nevertheless.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Celine

    All the Gothicists are gonna come after me, but I enjoyed Wieland better than anything by Radcliffe. Despite overwrought prose, the pace is decent, and actual interesting things happen to a brave, likeable heroine. This book is best enjoyed knowing little of the plot - many blurbs actually spoil several imporant plot points. --- Trigger warnings: (view spoiler)[religious fanatism, death in family, murder, threat of rape, gruesome death, suicide on-page & suicidal rationalizations. (hide spoiler)] All the Gothicists are gonna come after me, but I enjoyed Wieland better than anything by Radcliffe. Despite overwrought prose, the pace is decent, and actual interesting things happen to a brave, likeable heroine. This book is best enjoyed knowing little of the plot - many blurbs actually spoil several imporant plot points. --- Trigger warnings: (view spoiler)[religious fanatism, death in family, murder, threat of rape, gruesome death, suicide on-page & suicidal rationalizations. (hide spoiler)]

  8. 4 out of 5

    nad

    Charles Brockden Brown certainly has a way to gimmick around the actual themes in his writings but i love how he negotiates america’s past trauma of puritanism through ventriloquism. at first a seemingly random plot device that slowly turns into absolute devilry and drives everyone insane/enables already mad characters to completely flip. this was WILD

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nils

    What an arduous read! This being the second time reading Wieland, I must say however that I liked it a lot better than the first time around. It is not without its qualities: the character of the narrator Clara is certainly interesting, as is the question of guilt and responsibility in her brother and in Carwin. Also, the secluded, almost incestuous nature of their little community is striking, especially in the light of questions regarding puritanism and the pre-war-of-independence (setting of What an arduous read! This being the second time reading Wieland, I must say however that I liked it a lot better than the first time around. It is not without its qualities: the character of the narrator Clara is certainly interesting, as is the question of guilt and responsibility in her brother and in Carwin. Also, the secluded, almost incestuous nature of their little community is striking, especially in the light of questions regarding puritanism and the pre-war-of-independence (setting of the novel) and post-war (date of publishing) America. For me, however, these qualities are overshadowed by the many lengths this novel has. It drags along for most of its course without really gripping the reader. This I found especially disappointing since Wieland is first and foremost a Gothic novel, and there are Gothic novels from that time that are just more effective in delivering on their promise in terms of atmosphere. I can recommend ’Wieland’ as a canonical piece of American literature that deals with many issues pertinent at the time but if you read it for mere pleasure and expect a scary and effective page turner, it might not be the book you want to read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Smith

    I read Wieland previously; this is for the Carwin novella fragment, which is tantalizing as well as frustrating given its incomplete nature. Among the fascinating aspects of the fragment are the account of Carwin discovering ventriloquism, his early attempts to use it to influence his father, and the convoluted yet provocative detente between Carwin and his mysterious benefactor Ludloe. The philosophical discussions between them make up the bulk of the text, and hint at elements of Enlightenment I read Wieland previously; this is for the Carwin novella fragment, which is tantalizing as well as frustrating given its incomplete nature. Among the fascinating aspects of the fragment are the account of Carwin discovering ventriloquism, his early attempts to use it to influence his father, and the convoluted yet provocative detente between Carwin and his mysterious benefactor Ludloe. The philosophical discussions between them make up the bulk of the text, and hint at elements of Enlightenment philosophy, essentialist vs. existentialist views of human nature, the definition of liberty and how it could possibly pertain to the American Revolution, and the tenets and establishment of utopian societies. But the moments of gothic horror/terror are where Brockden Brown shines, and these mostly occur in the first few pages of the novella; one imagines that more of these thrilling and sensationalist moments would have come in the completed novel. It's a good read (;-)) for American literature completists, Gothic enthusiasts, and Charles Schultz aficionados, but mostly obscure to the average reader, and unfortunately for good reason.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dina

    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 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 that I never knew about Charles Brockden Brown until now? He was before Fenimore Cooper. There are faults to this novel, such as the introduction of Wieland's adopted daughter that goes no where. His heroine at times completely lacks femininity and at others has too much of it. All in all, though, the devices executed in this book can be recognized as those that were used again and again in later American Literature. It is not the greatest book ever written, but it is definitely worth a read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    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 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" were less useful and academic than me "venting" at the overt stupidity of Clara, Pleyel and Wieland. I agree with my professor in that the narrative reads like Brown was "running out of breath," in that it rushes forward, is often fantatical, and the dialogue just keeeeeeps runnninnnng onnnnn. That, combined with the ridiculous number of reversals in the story, pretty much left me with whiplash. I definitely wouldn't read it again, and I would recommend it only to those with serious interest in early American Lit.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hilary Scharper

    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 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 those fascinated by depictions of "nature" in literature, this provides a distinctly early American interpretation of "wilderness." In this novel, the dark forces of so-called untamed nature ominously circle the newborn city of Philadelphia.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nanette

    What a story!! First American novel coming to us from the 18th century. Whoa! Compelling, fast, unpredictable drama. Themes included genealogy of sin & mental illness, why do bad things happen to good people?, is God good or evil?, women as spectators or agents of action (all people as victims or agents of action), heavenly estates vs. earthly estates, the power of the word, regarding the suffering of others, how to discern between truth and error (1 Cor. 14:26-33), and authority vs. autonomy & What a story!! First American novel coming to us from the 18th century. Whoa! Compelling, fast, unpredictable drama. Themes included genealogy of sin & mental illness, why do bad things happen to good people?, is God good or evil?, women as spectators or agents of action (all people as victims or agents of action), heavenly estates vs. earthly estates, the power of the word, regarding the suffering of others, how to discern between truth and error (1 Cor. 14:26-33), and authority vs. autonomy & personal responsibility. I recommend this book as a fun read representing the early gothic novel—fun language, interesting social & gender prescriptions. It was a bit tedious in the soliloquies and last 3 pages but otherwise quite fun & glad to have read it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephany Wilkes

    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 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 delicious, given the fact that she may be insane. The book is dark, gloomy, genuinely scary at times, and thoroughly enjoyable for it. Well played, Charles Brockden Brown.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bitchin' Reads

    For being one of the first Early American works of fiction, I am impressed by the amount of connectivity I felt to the terror in this novel. It was palpable, real. The reason I rated it for less than four stars is my disappointment in the lack of answers by the conclusion. Maybe it is just reader's remorse for picking up a book that did not satiate my thirst for a solid book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    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!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aline

    Writing my paper on this for Migrations: ENG 50 really cemented my interest in this gothic novel. Brown abandons cheap scares and thrills in favor of the supernatural. The layers of narratives and it’s exploration of mimesis are what captivated me. As much as it is a political novel, it is also epistemological which adds all the more depth and intrigue. Definitely an underrated work.

  19. 4 out of 5

    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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chris Schaeffer

    Probably legitimately the best book ever written on North American soil, or at least in Chester County.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Burak Eren

    It starts off as plain boring then gets super exciting and ends with an unexpected ending (not in a big shocky way)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    A surprisingly fascinating allegory of the dangers or rhetoric over reason at the birth of America. Sadly, resonates today...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adelaide Mcginnity

    I am not a big fan of British Gothic literature, particularly that of the late 1700s and early 1800s when the genre was at its commercial peak. But as much as I dislike the Ann Radcliffes of the world for their bloated, ridiculous plots, their Manichean characters, their histrionic heroines, and their awful prose, I still have more respect for the bad writer than the hack ripping off the bad writer. Because that is what Wieland is: a cheap, American rip-off of Udolpho-era Gothic romances, in all I am not a big fan of British Gothic literature, particularly that of the late 1700s and early 1800s when the genre was at its commercial peak. But as much as I dislike the Ann Radcliffes of the world for their bloated, ridiculous plots, their Manichean characters, their histrionic heroines, and their awful prose, I still have more respect for the bad writer than the hack ripping off the bad writer. Because that is what Wieland is: a cheap, American rip-off of Udolpho-era Gothic romances, in all ways but one inferior to the works of Lewis, Radcliffe, and their ilk, and that one saving grace being that Wieldand, at a mere 220 pages, is blessedly short and free of superfluous poetry. The ridiculous heroine who faints all the time and commits utterly irrational actions to drive the plot forward? That is here in spades. (I mean, who in the f*** agrees to meet the person who claimed he wanted to rape and murder them in the middle of the f***ing night the f***ing day after he made said claims? Did that even make sense in Brown's head?) The apparently phantasmagorical events eventually explained scientifically? That's here too, except not for the spontaneous combustion part at the beginning, and the explanation is "scientific" in only the loosest possible sense of the word, as ventriloquism in no way works the way Brown seems to think it does. The plot that drifts and meanders without clear focus or direction? Of course that's here, with the entire opening sequence having no bearing on the main plot, other than to add in mystery that is never resolved. The character soup full of unimportant nobodies who pop up as plot convenient? There were so many of those I lost count. The worst aspect of Wieland, however, is unquestionably its prose. Calling the prose "purple" understates how badly overwritten it is; Brown's writing is ultraviolet, so bad as to be off the visible spectrum and turn even action sequences into tedious snooze-fests. Even while reading about a character undergoing spontaneous combustion, I found myself nearly falling asleep, a truly impressive feat of literary incompetence. Skip this trash and read the Monk, I say. It is barely longer and a hundred times better.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Okay, this novella is pretty bizarre. And by bizarre, I mean frustrating, over-written and over-wrought, and ridiculous. It’s gothic, but then the (spoiler alert) menace turns out to the human rather than supernatural. My beef isn’t with the bait and switch but with the narrator, Clara, who is freaking annoying. There probably wouldn’t be a story if she didn’t do everything in her power to make it happen. Most of her “instincts” were crap. I know I shouldn’t be judging characters, especially as s Okay, this novella is pretty bizarre. And by bizarre, I mean frustrating, over-written and over-wrought, and ridiculous. It’s gothic, but then the (spoiler alert) menace turns out to the human rather than supernatural. My beef isn’t with the bait and switch but with the narrator, Clara, who is freaking annoying. There probably wouldn’t be a story if she didn’t do everything in her power to make it happen. Most of her “instincts” were crap. I know I shouldn’t be judging characters, especially as someone who wears the mantle, in part of her life, as an English professor. But Clara Wieland is a twit. And everyone around her is equally ridiculous — mansplaining idiots or vacancies. There are some other short pieces in addition to “Wieland” in my volume but after investing substantial time into a “story” that turned out not to have a conclusion, I decided that it would be a waste of my time to read further.

  25. 5 out of 5

    yelenska

    ~ 3.5 ~ I'm glad I read this author, a pioneer of American Gothic Literature. I liked the story, but I genuinely do not think that it was that well-written. Coming from someone who actually likes the English language used in novels from the 18th-19th century. A lot of unnecessary durations throughout the novel made it wearisome at times even though I wanted to carry on with the story in order to find out what was happening. I will say one thing though: the explanation provided at the end of the n ~ 3.5 ~ I'm glad I read this author, a pioneer of American Gothic Literature. I liked the story, but I genuinely do not think that it was that well-written. Coming from someone who actually likes the English language used in novels from the 18th-19th century. A lot of unnecessary durations throughout the novel made it wearisome at times even though I wanted to carry on with the story in order to find out what was happening. I will say one thing though: the explanation provided at the end of the novel really made me laugh out loud. Did not expect that lol. It is funny to think that this would have scared people at the time :) Will not be reading Carwin's memoir, which is some sort of sequel to the novel I think. Or at least, not for now.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Courtney (courtney & books)

    I read this for my early American Literature class, and all I can say is that it’s one of the oddest books I’ve ever read. Again I had to read this on audiobook just because of my crazy life right now, so I don’t feel like I paid as much attention as I needed to, but I did really enjoy this crazy story! The novel is this weird thing of misconceptions, ventriloquism, human combustion, just so many things. There’s also an ambivalence to this story, so that you can’t quite say exactly what happens, I read this for my early American Literature class, and all I can say is that it’s one of the oddest books I’ve ever read. Again I had to read this on audiobook just because of my crazy life right now, so I don’t feel like I paid as much attention as I needed to, but I did really enjoy this crazy story! The novel is this weird thing of misconceptions, ventriloquism, human combustion, just so many things. There’s also an ambivalence to this story, so that you can’t quite say exactly what happens, but I think that’s what made the story great. So it was a weird book, but also enjoyable and something I want to reread. 3.5 Stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alison Zoccola

    Read for an English literature class (called "The Novel in America to 1914" with an emphasis on gothic fiction), and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. While some parts of the novel drag on longer than they should, things never get unbearably boring. It is also fascinatingly meta considering that it was published over a century before modernism emerged as a distinct literary mode. The novel also speaks to fears and challenges the United States is sadly still dealing with today. If you like go Read for an English literature class (called "The Novel in America to 1914" with an emphasis on gothic fiction), and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. While some parts of the novel drag on longer than they should, things never get unbearably boring. It is also fascinatingly meta considering that it was published over a century before modernism emerged as a distinct literary mode. The novel also speaks to fears and challenges the United States is sadly still dealing with today. If you like gothic fiction, especially with a historical bent, then I highly recommend you give this novel a read—you won't be disappointed.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauli

    Wieland or The Transformation is one of the earliest American novels (1798), and inaugurated the Gothic tradition in America. It tells the story of Wieland and his sister (the narrator). Born to a religious fanatic killed in mysterious circumstances, the Wielands experience throughout the novel strange and apparently supernatural occurrences which affect them psychologically, pushing them toward their mental and physical disintegration and that of those they love, especially after the introducti Wieland or The Transformation is one of the earliest American novels (1798), and inaugurated the Gothic tradition in America. It tells the story of Wieland and his sister (the narrator). Born to a religious fanatic killed in mysterious circumstances, the Wielands experience throughout the novel strange and apparently supernatural occurrences which affect them psychologically, pushing them toward their mental and physical disintegration and that of those they love, especially after the introduction of the odd and disturbing figure of Carwin in their lives. I think the novel has a few structural issues, but also memorable scenes which speed the reader on.

  29. 4 out of 5

    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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Gee

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Wieland: mmmmm Clara is my hot sister also god talks to me Clara: o no don’t kill me hot brother Carwin: you fools it wasn’t god talking it was me doing ventriloquism the whole time. U killed ur fam for nothing dumbass Pleyel: Marry me Clara Clara: ur not my brother but ur close enough Wieland dad: *builds a shrine to god and then spontaneously combusts. This is never mentioned again*

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