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Posted March 17, 2009
I give this book 4.5/5 stars. Not a full 5 because I agree with Shakespeare that "brevity is the soul of wit." The book contains an abundance of the latter but a complete absence of the former. It is 600+ pages long and its narrative style is tortuous and multi-layered. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it just makes for tedious reading. Tedious, but well worth the effort. Maturin has created a gothic masterpiece which is fulfillingly the final bookend for the genre.
The titular character has exchanged an eternity in heaven for an eternity in hell. His consolation prize is an extension of his mortal life and access to the deepest vaults of human knowledge. Melmoth is portrayed as a dark-eyed fiend who invokes fear in all who behold him.
What makes this novel truly horrific, however, is not the actions of Melmoth; its power lies in its exposure of human evil which exists in all of us. Melmoth speaks with ironic, cutting sarcasm which contains enough truth to pack a powerful punch; Melmoth is a man who is not fettered by societal and social inhibitions which afflict most mortals.
All of the characters in this novel are well-described and likeable. It is interesting to see their responses to the calamities which suddenly strike them. In summary, this book is a dark gothic masterpiece which is refreshingly original. I highly recommend it, despite the effort required to remove its pearls.
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Posted May 25, 2012
One of the finest gothic novels ever.
Melmoth the Wanderer is a dark tale about a fallen man in search of himself in desperate times. B&N has three ebooks with this title. The one I just reviewed is the only complte and unabridged book.
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