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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores Charles Brockden Brown’s fictionalized depictions of the anti-Jacobin conspiracy theories that drove the Illuminati scare that gripped the United States in the 1790s, as exemplified in Wieland, Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist, and Ormond. These visions of global conspiracy refer to John Robison’s 1799 Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe and Abbé Barruel’s Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, in which the authors reduce the French Revolution and the subsequent radical convulsions to the machinations of a German secret society known as the Bavarian Illuminati. Brown satirically appropriates these counterrevolutionary theories of a worldwide conspiracy. The chapter presents Brown’s imaginative juxtapositions of Jacobin and anti-Jacobin discourse in the three novels as an incipient attempt to map a conflict-ridden 1790s public sphere, while retaining a version of radical political and social commitment—in coded form—during a period of counterrevolutionary backlash.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, anti-Jacobin, Illuminati, Wieland, Carwin the Biloquist, Ormond, French Revolution, Bavarian Illuminati, Counterrevolution

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