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, Andri 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.
'My hour is come ... the clock of eternity is about to strike, but its knell must be unheard by mortal ears!'
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 18th century, Maturin's diabolic tale raised the genre to a new and macabre pitch. Its many admirers include Poe, Balzac, Oscar Wilde and Baudelaire.
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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.