Many modern critics fault Wieland for its gimmickry, and late-eighteenth century critics scorned it as well. The use of spontaneous combustion especially has been pointed at as a contrived element. In Brown's time, critics harshly faulted Brown for using ventriloquism as the device that drove the plot of the novel. Critics today have also disdained the ventriloquism in Wieland. In Brown's time, critics considered the work to be unsophisticated because of its dependence on the conventions of Gothic novels and novels of seduction. Regardless of its weaknesses, however, Wieland is thought to be the first significant novel published by an American, and it is most certainly Brown's most successful work. Joyce Carol Oates describes Wieland as "a nightmare expression of the fulfillment of repressed desire, anticipating Edgar Allan Poe's similarly claustrophobic tales of the grotesque".
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