RT Book, Whole DB /z-wcorg/ DS http://worldcat.org ID 28498476 LA English T1 The romance of real life : Charles Brockden Brown and the origins of American culture A1 Watts, Steven,, PB Johns Hopkins University Press PP Baltimore YR 1994 SN 0801846862 9780801846861 AB 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.