Arthur Mervyn Or, Memoirs of the Year 1793: With Related Texts

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Hackett Publishing Company, Mar 1, 2008 - Fiction - 442 pages
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When Dr. Stevens finds a young man sitting alone in Phildelphia, he takes pity on him and invites him into his home. The young man's name is Arthur Mervyn and he is suffering from yellow fever, an illness that has swept through the city. In Dr. Stevens' care, Arthur becomes well again. Arthur is a pleasant man and they spend many hours discussing the future. However, when Mr. Whortley visits Dr. Stevens and recognizes Arthur, the serene life that was so hoped for by Arthur is brought into turmoil. For Arthur's past is not one of innocence, but one involving swindlers and lost monies. And Dr. Stevens must decide if Arthur deserves another chance at improving a wretched life.

Charles Brockden Brown is considered the man who brought Gothic literature to America. Before him, Gothic novels were set in European ruined castles and moors. Brown brought them to the towns and villages of America, but retained the Gothic feel that people of the time enjoyed so much. "Arthur Mervyn" was one of his most popular novels.

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Arthur Mervyn or Memoirs of the Year 1793

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About the author (2008)

Charles Brockden Brown, the first full-time professional writer in the United States, is considered by many to be the nation's first important novelist. He is noted chiefly for having written four Gothic novels that prefigure one of America's most significant traditions, the kind of psychological-moralistic fiction written by Hawthorne, Poe, Henry James, William Faulkner, and Flannery O'Connor. Brown was also admired and imitated by such English writers such as Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Thomas Love Peacock. While Brown's texts displayed some of the indulgences inherent in the Gothic tradition, his work is notable for its inventive and sophisticated construction and for what Brown termed moral painting. Within four years, between 1789 and 1801, he published six novels. Wieland (1798), perhaps his best-known work, was based on an actual murder case in New York, but Brown was less interested in the sensational aspects than in the moral and psychological implications of the case. Ormand (1799) deals with an attempted seduction but is ultimately about the struggle of conflicting values. Arthur Mervyn (1799), the longest of Brown's novels, is a realistic account of the yellow fever plague that occurred in Philadelphia in 1733. Edgar Huntly (1799), though occasionally incredible, is a skillful interrogation of moral ambiguities and complexities. Before he abandoned novel writing for a career in journalism in 1804, Brown published two more novels, Clara Howard and Jane Talbot, both in 1801. Although for many years Brown's work received relatively limited attention, scholarly interest in his work has increased dramatically in the past 40 years. All of his fiction is once more in print, and carefully edited volumes of his works have recently been published by Kent State University Press. Brown died in 1810.

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