ABSTRACT

This chapter will be the first of three in which philosophy-that is, the philosophical frame developed in Chapter One-will engage narrative fic­ tion. Mediating between philosophy and fiction in each chapter will be a third category of texts, historical documents pertaining directly to the mean­ ing of dwelling in the period in which each novel was written. The introduc­ tion of such texts into my analyses meets several needs: I wish to anchor the a-historical tendencies of philosophical reflection to immediate and concrete instances of actual human dwelling; I want to show how Edgar Huntly clearly implicates itself within a discourse of colonization and discovery and how, consequently, this novel invites an inquiry into the idea of narrative as a form of taking possession-in a territorial sense; finally, I would like to show how we might add dwelling to the ways in which we understand narrative form. This chapters first section, then, will situate Edgar Huntly into the context of early American dwelling by setting it alongside two works, written by W illiam Penn and Thomas Hariot. These two works are inventories detailing the natural commodities that might be found in Pennsylvania and Virginia. By juxtaposing the inventories with an advertisement written for Edgar Huntly by Charles Brockden Brown, I show how the novel, in a manner con­ sistent with the territorial function of an inventory, wishes to exploit Amer­ icas unique imagistic resources in order to re-invent the genre of the gothic novel. Both the inventory and the novel, I argue, are committed to the dis­ cursive discovery of, and really-in a root sense-the invention of America. However, these are not two species of invention; rather, I will suggest that invention operates from the ground up, in accordance with the demands of human dwelling, and within an interiorizing economy that confers com­ modity status upon natural objects (in the case of the inventory) and literary

events (in the case of the novel). The literary incident or event as a commod­ ity will be, in part, the subject of the chapters third section where, princi­ pally, I treat the novel itself.