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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Charles Brockden Brown left Memoirs of Stephen Calvert (1799–1800) unfinished, and its fragmentary state has led to its unjust critical neglect. But its unfinished condition and its serialization (in Brown’s Monthly Magazine) can be seen not as a defect and an accident of publication but as essential components of a metafictional narrative experiment and as reasons for critical interest and speculation. The novel’s eponymous narrator, Stephen, early on tells readers that his history of moral deterioration is unprecedented in its horrors and cannot be imagined; then on the last page, readers are challenged to imagine the rest of an unfinished story that is ostensibly unimaginable. In some ways, this is Brown’s most adventurous novel, involving explosive issues of sex and sexual violence, race and slavery, homoerotic rivalry and sodomy, erotic antinomianism, and grave moral depravity—plot lines that Brown may have found it impossible to carry through to their logical conclusions.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, Stephen Calvert, unfinished, fragment, serialization, race, slavery, homoerotic, Monthly Magazine, metafiction

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