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Melmoth the Wanderer, Charles Robert MaturinMelmoth the Wanderer is an 1820 Gothic novel by Irish playwright, novelist and clergyman Charles Maturin The novel s title character is a scholar who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for 150 extra years of life, and searches the world for someone who will take over the pact for him, in a manner reminiscent of the Wandering Jew.John Melmoth, a student in Dublin, visits his dying uncle He finds a portrait of a mysterious ancestor called Melmoth Melmoth the Wanderer, Charles Robert MaturinMelmoth the Wanderer is an 1820 Gothic novel by Irish playwright, novelist and clergyman Charles Maturin The novel s title character is a scholar who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for 150 extra years of life, and searches the world for someone who will take over the pact for him, in a manner reminiscent of the Wandering Jew.John Melmoth, a student in Dublin, visits his dying uncle He finds a portrait of a mysterious ancestor called Melmoth the portrait is dated 1646 At his uncle s funeral, John is told an old family story about a stranger called Stanton who arrived looking for Melmoth the Traveller decades earlier 2014 Melmoth the Wanderer was definitely my kind of gothic novel It was dark and sinister, often ghastly, and overwhelmingly elegant Melmoth is a protagonist you won t soon forget.One complaint 660 pages Really, publisher You couldn t possibly have added 6pages, perhaps by way of an afterword or one of those lame reading group guides you re so fond of Given the subject matter, this seems an almost reprehensible oversight Lastly, if you d like a concise and metal summary of the boo Melmoth the Wanderer was definitely my kind of gothic novel It was dark and sinister, often ghastly, and overwhelmingly elegant Melmoth is a protagonist you won t soon forget.One complaint 660 pages Really, publisher You couldn t possibly have added 6pages, perhaps by way of an afterword or one of those lame reading group guides you re so fond of Given the subject matter, this seems an almost reprehensible oversight Lastly, if you d like a concise and metal summary of the book s epic atmosphere and general tone, I highly recommend this song Where do I begin with this one To say I ve been working on it thirty years plus would be bragging I first encountered Melmoth in HP Lovecraft s Supernatural Horror in Literature, where he praised it to the rafters I spent a summer working as a delivery man while in college, so I read the first part of Melmoth in the cab of a truck This time around, I was working a part time job on the graveyard shift, where I read the novel at 2AM while trying to fight sleep always the optimum way to experi Where do I begin with this one To say I ve been working on it thirty years plus would be bragging I first encountered Melmoth in HP Lovecraft s Supernatural Horror in Literature, where he praised it to the rafters I spent a summer working as a delivery man while in college, so I read the first part of Melmoth in the cab of a truck This time around, I was working a part time job on the graveyard shift, where I read the novel at 2AM while trying to fight sleep always the optimum way to experience Gothic novels And I finished it at the dentist s office.Melmoth is the story of a man named Melmoth who has somehow extended his life by 150 years It s never said how he did it, but the assumption is that he made a pact with Satan The only way Melmoth can escape the pact is to find someone to take his place This situation forms the narrative of the book.The novel was written in 1820 by an Irish clergyman, who never saw any success from it he died a few years after it was published Since it s written at the time of the Romantic revival, Melmoth is outside of the great Gothic wave However, these post Goth writers did love to use their words They never let one sentence suffice when an entire page would do For instance, here is a passage I have pulled from the manuscript at random She was thus employed on the eighth morning, when she saw the stranger approach and the wild and innocent delight with which she bounded towards him, excited in him for a moment a feeling of gloomy and reluctant compunction, which Immalee s quick susceptibility traced in his pausing step and averted eye She stood trembling in lovely and pleading diffidence, as if intreating pardon for an unconscious offence, and asking permission to approach by the very attitude in which she forbore it, while tears stood in her eyes ready to fall at another repelling motion.And that s just two sentences Try enduring 600 pages of this prose.Melmoth is actually a series of stories within stories Such a style of writing is not new Arabian Nights used this technique The 1965 Polish film Saragossa Manuscript also utilized the same method It s a good style to keep the reader engaged, but you can get lost in the narratives.Melmoth links all the stories together with a mysterious wanderer who appears at a crucial time in someone s life He makes them an offer they can t refuse Whenever he appears, the subject of the story is at the lowest point in their life, usually near death Melmoth s offer will take them out of the horrid situation, but at the cost of their soul.The first tale is that of John Melmoth, a college student who travels to the home of his uncle and benefactor Here he learns of his fabled ancestor who appears at dire moments in the history of the family The description of his uncle s wretched genteel poverty is one of the best sections of the novel The younger Melmoth soon locates a manuscript among his deceased uncle s papers which tells of the adventures abroad of an Englishman named Stanton after the Restoration Stanton has several encounters with the wanderer, one of them in a lunatic asylum John Melmoth next encounters a Spaniard who tells him the story of a nobleman forced to become a monk The wanderer appears when the monk is imprisoned by the Inquisition Escaping from the cells of the Inquisition, the monk takes refuge with a Spanish Jew who shows him a manuscript describing the wanderer s encounter with a noble Spanish Christian family The wanderer succeeds in wedding the daughter of the family, only to bring her tragedy Melmoth concludes with the wanderer making his final appearance to John Melmoth.My one paragraph summary of the novel only skims the basics of the complicated plot There s a whole passage where Melmoth encounters a jungle girl on an island off the coast of India Hard to say, but I can t help but wonder if this passage inspired both The Jungle Book and Tarzan The description of the prisons of the Inquisitions out goths anything Edgar Allan Poe wrote But I should also mention Maturin s anti catholic church diatribes are excessive to the point of parody.Melmoth is a crucial book in the development of Gothic horror literature If the reader can endure the prose, it s a good tale IntroductionNote on the TextSelect BibliographyA Chronology of Charles Robert Maturin Melmoth the Wanderer Explanatory Notes A Gothic work of Christian sexual hysteria. This had been sitting on my shelf to read for some time now, for some reason it never felt like the time Most of the classic fiction I have read has been in much shorter form and I was quite intimidated by this Gothic epic that I worried might be quite hard work After completing it, it did feel like a mammoth undertaking but well worth the effort Melmoth the Wanderer, damned for some undiscovered reason and doomed to wander the earth looking for individuals in the pit of despair and anguish i This had been sitting on my shelf to read for some time now, for some reason it never felt like the time Most of the classic fiction I have read has been in much shorter form and I was quite intimidated by this Gothic epic that I worried might be quite hard work After completing it, it did feel like a mammoth undertaking but well worth the effort Melmoth the Wanderer, damned for some undiscovered reason and doomed to wander the earth looking for individuals in the pit of despair and anguish in the hope that he can persuade them to take his place before he must submit to an unspecified and unspeakable fate We gradually learn about the Wanderer through the investigations of a man who is his namesake and a descendent from the same family There is quite a complex narrative structure in which different stories become embedded within one another as we go back in time and discover some of the history of Wanderer and the kind of suffering of individuals went through before they were confronted by Melmoth and presented with his diabolical bargain.As the reader, we witness stories of the utmost tragedy as people s lives go from bad to worse and they plumb deeper depths of anguish and despair Yet it seems that no level of human misery is bad enough to make it appear a less favourable alternative to that which Melmoth offers All this is set against a time in which Europe is beset by powerful religious institutions and stringent dogma Corruption and cruelty in these institutions and the hypocrisy of their followers is a theme common to many of the stories contained here I was also surprised by the amount of humour present, such as Melmoth s dying, miserly uncle and Isidora s priest who s obsessed with fine dining.Sometimes I felt the story rambled on a bit in places butoften than not I found myself rapt by the the tragic stories as they unfolded and overall, I found this a powerful piece of work A flawed masterpiece perhaps This book is technically an awful novel It at one point reaches 4 nested narratives within the main one Each nested narrative is closer to the ending of the book, and the last bit of the outward narrative makes up a couple chapters The relations are mostly just Melmoth little else combines them all It s impossible to name a main character except perhaps for Melmoth, who is almost entirely absent at the beginning of the tale then increasing so throughout.And that s the genius, somehow, of th This book is technically an awful novel It at one point reaches 4 nested narratives within the main one Each nested narrative is closer to the ending of the book, and the last bit of the outward narrative makes up a couple chapters The relations are mostly just Melmoth little else combines them all It s impossible to name a main character except perhaps for Melmoth, who is almost entirely absent at the beginning of the tale then increasing so throughout.And that s the genius, somehow, of this novel This novel builds It has many small, fake out builds that make you think you will reach a conclusion, know Melmoth s horrible request, know who he is, hear his story, where something big and wild will happen and the novel always falls back, pulls back, to bring you back to that suspense, until the peak ending of the last nested tale that made me actually shed a tear It is a truly strange and almost impossible to describe novel, that feels to make no sense until in the end, it makes perfect sense, even though no explanation has ever been provided I destroyed the physical novel almost entirely with scribblings, underlinings, circlings, of love or of frustration, love particularly of the descriptions of nature and feeling, frustration particularly at the point where Orientalism briefly and badly comes into play, but also at the moments when suspense is most frustrated Nothing is simple Melmoth is not human but we don t get to accuse him of being the Devil either We just never get to know Beautiful, weird, weird novel I felt like it was taking forever yet didn t want it to end So bizarre Created by an Irish clergyman, Melmoth is one of the most fiendish characters in literature In a satanic bargain, Melmoth exchanges his soul for immortality The story of his tortured wanderings through the centuries is pieced together through those who have been implored by Melmoth to take over his pact with the devil Influenced by the Gothic romances of the late th century, Maturin s diabolic tale raised the genre to a new and macabre pitch Its many admirers include Poe, Balzac, Oscar Wilde and Baudelaire Not much to say, I guess Maturin said it all I liked his fierce stand against Catholicism, his beautiful and atmospheric scenes, but got fed up by his never ending long windedness and his intertwined stories Not sure who started telling a story and who ended telling another Anyway, try it if you have ample time and patience. Intense imagery, takes a while to get back into reading 18 th century works, but if I don t do it once in a while I tend to lose the knack since it requireswork on the reader s part to decipher the prose Could see why Poe and Baudelaire liked it, hellish baroque imagery occasionally shot through with black humor.