Front cover image for Sheppard Lee

Sheppard Lee

"Set in Philadelphia, the novel contains the extraordinary account of Jerseyman Sheppard Lee's soul repeatedly migrating into the bodies of recently deceased acquaintances. Accidentally at first, but soon actively bringing about these transformations, the narrator's spirit enters a number of radically different characters and temporarily acts out their role in the fabric of the city. In the hope of attaining in someone else's life the happiness he feels missing in his own, Lee becomes a gout-afflicted squire, a womanizing dandy of Chestnut Street, a bitter money lender, an idealistic philanthropist, a rich man driven mad by indigestion, and even a Virginian slave. When in the body of these figures (referred to by Lee as his "prototypes"), the narrator adopts their habits, beliefs, and sense of status, permitting the novel to satirize them from within. From exposing the empty ennui of the elite to ridiculing quixotic Quakerism as well as showing the city's duplicitous relationship with its slave-holding neighbors, Bird's novel points a mocking finger at some of the very pillars upholding the City of Brotherly Love in the early 1800s.."--Schöberlein, Stefan. Sheppard Lee. Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia (viewed online 6/13/2019)
Print Book, English, 1836
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1836