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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Charles Brockden Brown embraced the classical tradition in English literature, as can be seen from his many references to Greek and Roman historiographers, poets, and philosophers. His retellings of ancient events and his portraits of classical figures questioned central maxims in the writing of history which derived from Cicero and had been practiced by the later school of eighteenth-century exemplary historiography. While Brown’s classicism has been frequently interpreted along the line of the growing political tensions in the 1790s, this chapter shows that his adaptations of classical sources are motivated less by a partisan spirit than by Brown’s understanding of himself as a civic commentator and public intellectual. Brown’s Roman stories and his numerous essays on topics related to classical antiquity have to be seen as an intervention in the formation and enlargement of public opinion in the early national period.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, historiography, short story, essay, republicanism, public sphere, democratization, education, periodicals

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