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Melmoth the Wanderer


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Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin
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Melmoth, one of the most fiendish characters in literature, was created by an Irish clergyman determined, as he put it, to 'display all my diabolical resources'. In a satanic bargain, Melmoth has sold his soul in exchange for immortality. As his story is pieced together through those who have glimpsed his eerie existence over the centuries, we witness Melmoth's desperate quest to find someone who will take his place and release him from his tortured wanderings. Comic, violent, allusive and profound, Melmoth the Wanderer casts a plumb line into the depths of human perversity. Ever since it appeared in 1820 it has been hugely influential, numbering Balzac, Poe, Andre Breton and Oscar Wilde among its many admirers. It is, according to Victor Sage, 'a labyrinthine form without a centre... the Gothic romance to end all Gothic romances.' This edition includes a critical introduction, explanatory notes and further reading.

Author Biography

Charles Robert Maturin was born in Dublin in 1782, and educated at Trinity College. He took orders and was a curate in Loughrea and Dublin, and also, for a time, worked as a teacher until literary success enabled him to give this up. His first novel, The Fatal Revenge (1807), was published under a pseudonym to protect his reputation as a clergyman. A series of other novels followed, and his tragedy Bertram (1816) met with great success when it was produced by Edmund Kean at Drury Lane, after recommendation by Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron. His next plays, Manuel (1817) and Fredolfo (1819) were failures, and Maturin returned to writing novels. Melmoth the Wanderer appeared in 1820, but in the last years of his life his works were neglected, and he died in poverty in 1824. In the 1890s his literary reputation in England was revived, and his works were reprinted in various editions. Maturin's Calvinist upbringing lent to his work a strong sense of the soul's relationship with God, which can also be seen in the work of James Hogg, William Godwin and Godwin's daughter, Mary Shelley. He was also influenced by comic writers of epics and romances, such as Cervantes, Swift, Sterne and Diderot. His strongest influences were the authors of Gothic romances of the late eighteenth century, in particular, Matthew Lewis and Ann Radcliffe. Maturin's tales were, however, always more ext
Release date NZ
May 25th, 2000
Edited by Victor Sage Introduction by Victor Sage Notes by Victor Sage
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Penguin Classics
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