Tuesday May 12th, 2009

“Fate has done its worst.”

wieland-coverOn the Backlist today, Anne Trubek examines a true oddball in American literature, Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland. I was assigned to read it in college, but have only vague memories of it — it’s probable that, like Trubek, I didn’t make it through back then. I’m eager to now.

Here are the book’s opening two paragraphs:

I feel little reluctance in complying with your request. You know not fully the cause of my sorrows. You are a stranger to the depth of my distresses. Hence your efforts at consolation must necessarily fail. Yet the tale that I am going to tell is not intended as a claim upon your sympathy. In the midst of my despair, I do not disdain to contribute what little I can to the benefit of mankind. I acknowledge your right to be informed of the events that have lately happened in my family. Make what use of the tale you shall think proper. If it be communicated to the world, it will inculcate the duty of avoiding deceit. It will exemplify the force of early impressions, and show the immeasurable evils that flow from an erroneous or imperfect discipline.

My state is not destitute of tranquillity. The sentiment that dictates my feelings is not hope. Futurity has no power over my thoughts. To all that is to come I am perfectly indifferent. With regard to myself, I have nothing more to fear. Fate has done its worst. Henceforth, I am callous to misfortune.