Photograph: Alamy I first read Melmoth the Wanderer more than a decade ago, after stumbling across a battered copy I picked up for a few pounds in a secondhand bookshop by the sea. Although its author, Charles Maturin , might not be as well known as his near contemporaries — Shelley, Bram Stoker — he succeeded in producing a gothic horror so mind-bogglingly sophisticated that he certainly should be. I was staying in a bed and breakfast in Suffolk at the time, and in the day I walked along the beach, while my nights were spent in an armchair in the corner of my room, reading the book. I remember it was a warm December, and in the evenings I would sit with the windows open. The curtains would flap and a salt breeze would blow into the room, and as I read I could hear the whisper of a name on the wind.
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Shelves: karl-wagner-memorial-library Where do I begin with this one? 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 Where do I begin with this one? 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.
Melmoth is the story of a man named Melmoth who has somehow extended his life by years. 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 by an Irish clergyman, who never saw any success from it he died a few years after it was published. However, these post-Goth writers did love to use their words. They never let one sentence suffice when an entire page would do. 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.
Try enduring 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 Polish film Saragossa Manuscript also utilized the same method. Whenever he appears, the subject of the story is at the lowest point in their life, usually near death.
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. 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. 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. The description of the prisons of the Inquisitions out-goths anything Edgar Allan Poe wrote. Melmoth is a crucial book in the development of Gothic horror literature.
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin – a gothic matryoshka
Synopsis[ edit ] John Melmoth, a student in Dublin , visits his dying uncle. He finds a portrait of a mysterious ancestor called "Melmoth"; the portrait is dated A manuscript left by Stanton describes his first finding Melmoth laughing at the sight of two lovers who have been struck by lightning, and hearing of a wedding at which Melmoth was an uninvited guest: the bride died and the bridegroom went mad. Melmoth visits him there, and offers to free him, but Stanton refuses and escapes. He is visited by Melmoth in a dream, and later sees Melmoth laughing at a shipwreck. John tries to approach him, but slips and falls into the sea. He is mistreated by the monks, and his brother Juan arranges for him to escape with the help of a fellow monk, a parricide.
Melmoth the Wanderer