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Comment: An EX-LIBRARY copy in VERY GOOD overall condition. May have some library stamps, marks etc.
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Melmoth the Wanderer (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 25 May 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (25 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044761X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140447613
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About 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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Got to be the most perfect & funny & brilliant & outraeous book of 'em all. I loved it. X
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I tackled `Melmoth the Wanderer' by Charles Maturin (1820) with some degree of trepidation. Although published in 1820 this book is part of the genre styled the `Gothic Novel' which is an epitome of 18th century literature. I always have trouble finishing 18th century novels - having fallen short with `Tom Jones' (Fielding), `Tristram Shandy' (Sterne), `Pamela' (Richardson), `Joseph Andrews' (Fielding) and `Humphrey Clinker' (Smollett) as my most noteworthy failures. I ALMOST made it with `Robinson Crusoe' (I got him off the island) and made it with `Gulliver's Travels' (Swift) (studied it at AL & later taught it). Unfortunately, `Melmoth' has joined the majority (abandoned at P. 229/607). Why?
There are a lot of virtues in the book. Maturin has amusing ways of seeing life - a miser's handwriting is `that perpendicular and penurious hand, that seems determined the most of the very paper, thriftily abridging every word, and leaving scarce an atom of writing' (P.24). Another example is his condemnation of monastic life as `that pretence of a wish to assist, without the power, or even the wish, that is so flattering both to the weak minds that exercise it, and the weaker on whom it is exercised.' (P.122) - note `pretence' has the older meaning of `aspiration'. When describing a lengthy period of effort driven on by terror, he cuts short his descriptive account with the pithy `terror has no diary' (P. 213). Here he describes the problem of calculating in solitary confinement: `I began to think that I could keep time as accurately as any clock.... So I sat and counted sixty; a doubt always occurred to me, that I was counting them faster than the clock. Then I wished to be the clock, that I might have no feeling, no motive for hurrying on the approach of time. Then I reckoned slower.' (P.162).
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Format: Paperback
Can't decide whether I prefer this, or "The Monk" by M. Lewis. The Monk is an easier read and is faster paced, but Melmoth really has an evil, demonic quality which is far darker than anything that the Monk has to offer. Parts of it really are bizarre. One of the most oddball books that I have ever read. The narrative hops around through several different times and locations which can be a little confusing, but overall, SO much more interesting and infinately better written than most of today's drivel. Highly recommended !
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Format: Paperback
Oh, to have listened to one of the author's sermons! This book is clever beyond the reach of any of its contemporaries (and certainly beyond anything in the modern horror genre) taking one from misery to misery, to the very depths of human despair, but all the time reminding that there is another level; when things are at their blackest, there are still lengths to which one would not go.
Beautifully written, immesely evocative, each of the stories within is worthy of publication alone, the sum is a masterpiece.
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This is one of the strangest books I have ever read, but extremely compelling. Imagine a re working of the Faust story, but set in the Gothic romance tradition of the early 19th century. It is really about " an odd story in the family" - of someone way back in the family who had made a pact with the devil. I loved the early scenes set in Ireland, so full of humour, with the staff taking advantage of the master's illness to drink and laze about. The house there has a portrait of a 17th century ancestor yet its subject has been seen wandering about in recent times. The book is also an attack on some aspects of organised religion, on catholic tradition and conventual life in Spain. The anti catholic vituperation is reminiscent of Voltaire's writings in the 18th century. The structure of this book is that stories are 'nested' within stories, which can make it difficult to follow at times, so I have given this 4 stars. Think of this as a precursor to Mrs Radcliffe, Edgar Allan Poe, R L Stevenson, Bram Stoker- but absolutely original in itself. I am sure you will never read another book like it. I may well re read it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Melmoth the Wanderer is the story of Melmoth, who sells his soul for immortality, becoming a kind of Wandering-Jew figure. It tells snippets of his story throughout the ages (and needless to say, it all goes horribly downhill quite quickly). It is very much a novel of its time, revelling in the gothic taste for the terrible, the dark side of "sublime" and general death 'n' horror. Now, I actually quite like this genre, and as a specimen of its type it's not at all bad. It is well-written, it covers a whole variety of times and places and brings the full gamut of the terrible into play. In fact, as an essay piece or a reader for a literary course it's probably quite useful.

However, as your common or garden reading-material it's possibly the most depressing thing I've ever read. It takes the floridity of the genre to its full extent - and then out the other side. It involves very few characters that are actually appealing, and probably something dire happens to them anyway. Because it is a series of vignettes, it comes across as being quite choppy, with little in the way of continuity possible. The writing is so powerful that it goes too far and overdoes it, and if you're reading for pleasure (as I was)you may find it a heavy slog.

One of the other reviewers here mentioned "The Monk" and actually I found that a much better balance of dark and lighter writing. This is important as in my opinion, without the lighter bits, the horror loses definition and just becomes a bit...well...overdone.

My view is that if you're dithering between the two, go for the "The Monk". (Feel free to call me a Philistine though!)
JAC.
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