Charles Brockden Brown: An American Tale is the first comprehensive literary, biographical, and cultural study of the novelist whom critic Leslie Fiedler has dubbed "the inventor of the American writer."
The author of Wieland, Arthur Mervyn, Ormond, and Edgar Huntly, Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810) is considered the first American professional author. He introduced Indian characters into American fiction. His keen interest in character delineation and abnormal psychology anticipates the stories of Poe, Hawthorne, and later masters of the psychological novel.
Brown was eager to establish for himself an American identity as a writer, to become what Crèvecoeur called "the new man in the New World." It is especially this intimate identification of writer with country that makes Brown a telling precursor of our most characteristic authors from Poe, Hawthorne, and Cooper to Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner.
To understand its significance, Brown's work must be examined as both art and artifact. Accordingly, Charles Brockden Brown: An American Tale is literary history as well as criticism, embued with insights into a writer's sources and influences and the psychology of literary composition. It is also a fascinating examination of a nation's emotional and intellectual impact on a young man in search of his identity as creative artist.