Snapshot Review :: Wieland, America’s Earliest Gothic Tale

Wieland; or the Transformation: An American Tale
Charles Brockden Brown (1798)

In my quest to read a work of popular fiction published during each U.S. presidential term (as part of my Presidential Reading Project), Wieland fit the bill, published in 1798 when John Adams was in office. It’s also noteworthy as the first significant novel written by an American-born writer.

Unfortunately, despite some genuinely terrifying moments and a gripping (if somewhat gruesome) premise–a religious fanatic hears voices that compel him to murder his wife and children–this early work of American Gothic fiction is more interesting as a novelty than as a must-read piece of literature.

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