The Gothic Element in the Novels of Charles Brockden Brown Page: 46
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and death, and peril; with, hair-breadth, escapes
from tigers and savages; v.ith defiles and rooks,
and the boundless wilderness. The hero of his
tale was merely an object set up to connect these
things, or mm then probable. In himself he was
often little better than a phantasma or a madman.
. . . His talent for stirring the expectation of
the reader, and keeping his anxiety alive from
first to last, throughout some hazardous enoounter,
or mysterious event, oan soarcely be paralleled in
the history of fiction. His portraits also of
American life are absolutely alarming: — they are
bare, comfortless, uncivilised. We see the rafters,
the coarse dress, the little hoard of oorn, the
poor cottage built hastily of logs; and on the
outside we hear the howling of wolves and panthers,
the rustling of the rattle-snake, and the quiet
tramp of the murderous savages going on their way
to execute some hideous revenge. We look for the
walls of a town, and the poor-house, as a refuge
against violence and want. It is not solely,
however, in woods and huts that Brown luxuriates;
he takes us often into cities, and makes us amends
with fevers and assassinations for the forest
■wonders which we have left behind.
That Brown was conscious of his native inspiration is
evident. In the preface to Edgar Buntly he says:
America has opened new views to the naturalist
and politician, but has seldom 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 pur-
pose 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 wonderful diseases or
affections of the human frame.
^Cairns, ojj. olt., p, 197.
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Cannon, Willie Jim. The Gothic Element in the Novels of Charles Brockden Brown, thesis, 1950; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc130235/m1/49/: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .