Short Story #110: Somnambulism. A Fragment b Charles Brockden Brown

Title:  Somnambulism. A Fragment

Author:  Charles Brockden Brown


Charles Brockden Brown - Somnambulism
The story is introduced by referring to a newstory about a man who had slept walk and killed a woman without ever knowing it.  Moving from there, we are introduce to Mr. Davis and his daughter, Constantia, visiting the narrator at dinner.  They receive a message calling them away but the narrator, who is infatiuated with Constantia insists that they must stay.  He insists that if they go, they will face uncertain danger.  However, proper behavior prevents him from forcing them to stay.  Despite his insistence, they do leave and he is left to turmoil their fates while at home.  He falls asleep and has colorful dreams but awakens in the morning to find tragedy has struck.  While on the road, Davis and his daughter encountered a stranger who they think is the narrator but not sure.  The person disappears but then they encounter a local man who had some mental developmental issues and often roamed the night trying to scare people.  Later on, they believe the man is following them but some other person disrupts their carriage ride.  It is enough for the carriage to be temporarily ruined and for Constantia to be slightly injured while Mr. Davis goes to seek help.  Just as he's out of her reach, he witnesses her being shot by someone.  The story ends with her dying and the narrator asking the reader why should he linger on it the events.


I found the story a bit disappointing.  This was largely due to the fact that the work has been referenced many times as a great early horror tale and I was hoping for more.  The preface gives away the ghost, so to speak.  It should have probably come at the end rather than the beginning.  The story as a whole is enjoyable and well drawn out with the events along the road, but there is a constant knowledge of how the story will turn out.  

Short Story #110 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 1/8/2014
Source:  I found this story at this site.  Note the link is directly to a Word Document containing all of his uncollected short fiction.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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