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The romance of real life : Charles Brockden Brown and the origins of American culture

Author: Steven Watts
Publisher: Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, ©1994.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Among the leading writers of the early republic, Charles Brockden Brown often appears as a romantic prototype - the brilliant, alienated author rejected by a utilitarian, materialistic American society. In The Romance of Real Life Steven Watts reinterprets Brown's life and work as a complex case study in the emerging culture of capitalism at the dawn of the nineteenth century.
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Genre/Form: Biography
History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Watts, Steven, 1952-
Romance of real life.
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, ©1994
(OCoLC)623664034
Named Person: Charles Brockden Brown; Charles Brockden Brown; Charles Brockden Brown
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Steven Watts
ISBN: 0801846862 9780801846861
OCLC Number: 28498476
Description: xviii, 246 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: 1. The Novel and the Market in the Early Republic --
2. The Lawyer and the Rhapsodist --
3. The Young Artist as Social Visionary --
4. The Major Novels (I): Fiction and Fragmentation --
5. The Major Novels (II): Deception and Disintegration --
6. The Writer as Bourgeois Moralist --
7. The Writer and the Liberal Ego.
Responsibility: Steven Watts.
More information:

Abstract:

Among the leading writers of the early republic, Charles Brockden Brown often appears as a romantic prototype - the brilliant, alienated author rejected by a utilitarian, materialistic American society. In The Romance of Real Life Steven Watts reinterprets Brown's life and work as a complex case study in the emerging culture of capitalism at the dawn of the nineteenth century.

Offering a revisionist view of Brown himself, Watts examines the major novels of the 1790s as well as previously neglected sources - from early essays and private letters to late-career forays into journalism, political pamphleteering, serial fiction, and cultural criticism. The result is a fuller picture of Brown as a man of letters in post-Revolutionary America, a man who rigorously analyzed the public and private vagaries of individual agency.

His notoriously volatile private life, it turns out, in many ways flowed from a critique of market society and its impulses.

Watts also shows how Brown's experience was central to broader developments: the rise of the novel in America, the development of gender and family formulations, the clash between republican "virtue" and liberal "self-interest," and the origins of a bourgeois creed of self-control. Perhaps most importantly, he explains how Brown helped articulate a notion of "culture" itself as a civilizing force to restrain restless liberal individualism.

The Romance of Real Life shows how a sensitive, prolific writer confronted, wrestled with, and ultimately promoted the emergence of a liberal society in nineteenth-century America.

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