Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



University of Tennessee Press


In the critical hierarchy of Charles Brockden Brown's six published novels, Clara Howard has traditionally ranked dead last. While Brown's four socalled major novels have long been redeemed from aesthetic disdain and continue to receive increasing attention and acclaim, his last two novels are routinely bracketed off from this earlier work and described in derisive and dismissive terms, when they have not been ignored completely. Critics, moreover, seem to agree that of these two late epistolary romances, both published in 1801, Clara Howard is worse even than Jane Talbot.1 From Mary Shelley's 1814 remark that Clara Howard is "very stupid" to Norman Grabo's 1981 characterization of it as "all breakdown; the only things left to collapse are the characters and our interest. And they do," critics have virtually delighted in condemning the book.2

Chapter of

Revising Charles Brockden Brown: Reconfiguring the Early American Republic


Philip Barnard
Mark Kamrath
Stephen Shapiro



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