Edgar Huntly
or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker
  • Publication Date: May 30, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554813384 / 1554813387
  • 350 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Edgar Huntly

or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker

  • Publication Date: May 30, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554813384 / 1554813387
  • 350 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Edgar Huntly is a compelling tale of sleepwalking, murder, and frontier violence set in rural Pennsylvania in the 1780s. His memory and wits shaken by the scenes he has witnessed, ordinary republican citizen Edgar Huntly relates the unpredictable and catastrophic consequences of his chance encounter with Clithero Edny, a mysterious Irish immigrant whose unfortunate but violent history catches up with him in the New World. Huntly’s growing obsession with Clithero plunges both men into physical and mental danger, unsettling the colonial territories of the Delaware basin and the cognitive territory of Huntly’s own mind. Brown’s artful sensationalism transplants the European form of the gothic romance to the new United States, yielding one of the most exciting, metaphysically sophisticated, and historically self-aware novels in early American literary culture.

This Broadview Edition includes a rich selection of historical materials on the gothic and sublime, sleepwalking, captivity narratives, and early American literary nationalism.


“Siân Silyn Roberts has done readers, students, and scholars a tremendous service in assembling this critical edition of Edgar Huntly. An authoritative scholarly edition of the text of the novel is placed among a remarkable range of contemporary extracts that help readers understand the text in the contexts of late-eighteenth-century aesthetic and moral philosophy, transatlantic literary culture and the gothic boom, and other topics. Roberts also adds an elegant critical introduction, thus making her own important contribution to the critical scholarship. This new edition pulls Brown’s fascinating and difficult novel into a new set of critical and theoretical conversations that reflect early American literary studies today; it will surely make this canonical, yet somewhat under-studied early American novel accessible to new generations of readers.” — Ezra Tawil, University of Rochester

“Siân Silyn Roberts has raised the bar considerably in her edition of Charles Brockden Brown’s notoriously difficult Edgar Huntly. In taking up Brown’s ‘dare’ to readers, Roberts provides the most comprehensive toolbox for both new and returning students, and for those of us who have sustained the discomfiting realm of Brown’s world for years. The excellent introduction demonstrates Brown’s broad-ranging investments and influences, from the regional to the transatlantic, native American to radical Irishman, US literary nationalism to the extensive literary archives his work engages with. Roberts illuminates the connections between the 1790s and today, and as a result, invites readers to imagine historical trajectories as Brown’s work demands. This is important and timely—I can’t wait to use it in my classes.” — Gretchen Woertendyke, University of South Carolina

Appendix A: Literary Nationalism and the Romance

    a) Charles Brockden Brown, “The Difference Between History and Romance.” The Monthly Magazine and American Review 2:4 (April 1800)
    b) Excerpt from Sir Walter Scott, Essay on Romance (1823)
    c) Excerpt from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Preface to The House of the Seven Gables (1851)

Appendix B: Theories of the Gothic and the Sublime

    a) Excerpt from Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757)
    b) Excerpt from M. Immanuel Kant, from Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764)
    c) Excerpt from Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Mont Blanc” (1817)
    d) Charles Brockden Brown, “A Receipt for a Modern Romance,” The Weekly Magazine 2:22 (June 1798)

Appendix C: Sleepwalking

    a) Excerpt from John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)
    b) Excerpt from Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia; or, the Laws of Organic Life (1794)
    c) Charles Brockden Brown. “Somnambulism. A Fragment.” The Literary Magazine, and American Register 3.20 (May 1805)

Appendix D: The Moral Senses

    a) Excerpt from Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)
    b) Excerpt from Jean-Jacque Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Mankind (1755)
    c) Excerpt from Benjamin Rush, An Inquiry into the Influence of Physical Causes Upon the Moral Faculty: delivered before the American Philosophical Society, held in Pennsylvania on the twenty-seventh of February, 1786 (1786).

Appendix E: Captivity and Indian Relations

    a) A True Narrative of the Sufferings of Mary Kinnan (1794).
    b) Excerpt from Minutes of conferences, held with the Indians, at Easton, in the months of July and November, 1756; together with two messages sent by the government to the Indians residing on Susquehannah; and the report of the committee appointed by the Assembly to attend the governor at the last of the said conferences. Philadelphia: B. Franklin and D. Hall, 1757.
    c) Excerpt from Benjamin Franklin, A narrative of the late massacres, in Lancaster County, of a number of Indians, friends of this province, by persons unknown. With some observations on the same. Philadelphia: Franklin and Hall [?], 1764.

Appendix F: Irish Radicalism and Conspiracy

    a) Excerpt from William Cobbett, Detection of a conspiracy, formed by the United Irishmen, with the evident intention of aiding the tyrants of France in subverting the government of the United States. Philadelphia: William Cobbett, 1798 (published under the pseudonym “Peter Porcupine”)

Siân Silyn Roberts is Associate Professor at Queens College, City University of New York.