Melmoth the Wanderer

Melmoth the Wanderer

2.4 14
by Charles Maturin
     
 

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Written by an eccentric Anglican curate in Dublin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) brought the Gothic novel to a new pitch of claustrophobic intensity, surpassing the quiet tremors of Ann Radcliffe's romances in its reckless accumulation of cruelties and blasphemies. Its tormented villain, a Faustian transgressor desperately seeking a victim to release him from his fatal…  See more details below

Overview

Written by an eccentric Anglican curate in Dublin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) brought the Gothic novel to a new pitch of claustrophobic intensity, surpassing the quiet tremors of Ann Radcliffe's romances in its reckless accumulation of cruelties and blasphemies. Its tormented villain, a Faustian transgressor desperately seeking a victim to release him from his fatal bargain with the devil, was regarded by Balzac as one of the great outcasts of modern literature. Intended partly as an attack on Roman Catholicism, Maturin's intriguing novel teeters giddily over abysses of sacrilege and raving paranoia, in moments of delirious panic worthy of Godwin or Poe.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780192835925
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
09/28/1998
Series:
Oxford World's Classics Series
Pages:
592
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 5.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Charles Robert Maturin (1782-1824) was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College. He took orders and worked as a curate in Loughrea and Dublin. Maturin enjoyed literary success with his Gothic novels and a tragedy 'Bertram' (1816). His later plays and fiction, including Melmoth the Wanderer, were neglected and he died in poverty.

Victor Sage is Reader in Literature in the School of English and American Studies at the University of East Anglia.

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Melmoth the Wanderer 2.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
ed28 More than 1 year ago
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.
John-Gregory More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maturin's novel relates the story of Melmoth, a scholar who traded his soul to Infernal powers in return for answers to all of his questions about the Universe. He has 100 extra years to live; in that time, if he can find someone to volunteer to take his place in Hell, he is free. Otherwise, at the end of the 100 years, Melmoth will be damned. Melmoth the Wanderer is a Gothic novel in the highest tradition of the Romantic period. It's structure, however, makes it unique. It folds in upon itself, beginning with the present and ending with the future, but somewhere in between moving progressively backwards as the narrator tries to unlock the secrets of Melmoth's life, just as Melmoth tried to unlock the secrets of the Universe. The characters, Melmoth, Emmalee, the many Jews who help Melmoth, are beautifully written and engaging. The novel is worth reading for Maturin's virtuoso touch with structure alone, but also for the wonderful touches and passages, particularly where Melmoth struggles with his conscience and reveals that even fiends have a soul. The novel questions what it means to search for knowledge, to have a family, to be in love, and to accept responsibility for your own fate. Melmoth the Wanderer asks questions about why mercy is so hard to find, why supposedly pious people often cause the most suffering, and what it might take to redeem a minion of Hell. An ambiguous ending caps off the novel and allows you to answer these questions for yourself.
Anonymous 3 months ago
A classic, but hard to folllow...
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