Brockden Brown and Poe: Inner Excesses

  • David Morse
Part of the Macmillan Studies in Romanticism book series (SR)


In the writings of Charles Brockden Brown and Edgar Allan Poe an analysis of the workings of the human mind is the authors’ unremitting concern. They seek, in a manner which Godwin had pioneered, to follow the processes of consciousness in minute and intricate detail. In some sense this is a rationalist project, since it involves an attempt to chart unexplored areas of consciousness; yet the result is more equivocal, rather disconcertingly suggesting that there is little basis for assuming that mental activity is necessarily reasonable. Moreover, if the irrational is precisely that which is not amenable to reason, it would seem that the irrational is by definition excessive and therefore dictates that what is needed, if anything, is yet more strenuous efforts to control it.


Rationalist Project Foreign Birth Morbid Sensation Imaginative Mediation Purloin Letter 
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  1. Charles Brockden Brown, Arthur Mervyn, ed. S.J. Krause and S. W. Reid (Kent, Ohio, 1980) p. 137.Google Scholar
  2. Charles Brockden Brown, Ormond, ed. S.J. Krause and S. W. Reid (Kent, Ohio, 1982) p. 112.Google Scholar
  3. Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntly, ed. D. Stineback (New Haven, Conn, 1973) p. 39.Google Scholar
  4. William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, ed. I. Kramnick (London, 1978) p. 367.Google Scholar
  5. Charles Brockden Brown, Weiland, ed. S.J. Krause and S. W. Reid (Kent, Ohio, 1980) p. 130.Google Scholar

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© David Morse 1987

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  • David Morse

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