Charles Brockden Brown
The Kent State University Press
Arthur Mervyn has long puzzled students and scholars with its seeming diffuseness, resulting from its original serial publication. Critics agree, however, that the power of this novel lies not so much in its portrait of “right virtue,” which was Brown's primary aim, as in its realistic descriptions of the yellow fever epidemic and the ensuing panic that swept Philadelphia in the summer of 1793. The ambiguities of Arthur Mervyn's character and the precarious nature of the revolutionary 1790s make this novel a particularly apt subject for lively discussion and future scholarship and make this revised edition an excellent classroom text.