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Melmoth the Wanderer

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,846 ratings  ·  107 reviews
In a satanic bargain, Melmoth exchanges his soul for immortality. This book tells the story of his tortured wanderings through the centuries.
Paperback, 704 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1820)
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Bill  Kerwin

There's an old story told by Ezra Pound--I believe it can be found either in "The ABC of Reading" or "From Confucius to Cummings"--about a retired sea captain, determined to improve his primary school Latin, who was tasked by his tutor (the local vicar or schoolmaster) with reading Vergil's Aeneid. When he had finished, his mentor inquired, "How did you like the hero?"

"Hero? What hero?" the captain replied.

"Why, it's Aeneus I mean," answered the teacher.

"Hero? You call him a hero? By God, I...more
Tim Mayer
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...more
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...more
Kieran Walsh
Melmoth was probably the finest example of Gothic horror. Maturin was a great uncle of Oscar Wilde (and some useless information here) Oscar Wilde lived out his days in France under the name of Memoth. The Character sells his sould to the devil in exchange for 150 'extra' years and spends the time wandering the earth looking for somebody to take on the pact. The book is vitriolic in its anti-Catholicism so serves as a good barometer of religious sentiment in popular culture in the early part of...more
This book is already pretty long, but I think it should have been twice it's length. A very slow-moving, atmospheric, very well-written story containing stories containing stories. The organization is a little slipshod, and I get the feeling that the author just stopped the story and finished it before he had orginally wanted to, but that doesn't really detract from the MAJESTY of this work.
Rob Bliss
This is a tough one. Im glad I reached the end, 542 pages, and I dont want to read it again. Published in 1820. Part of the Gothic novel tradition at its earliest, after Radcliffe and Lewis.

Its not what I expected. Its worse. Melmoth is hardly in it. Instead, there are many stories about other people doing other things, and once in a while Melmoth pops in. Like The Decameron or The Canterbury Tales with so many stories. Being from 1820, the descriptions are VERY long and it takes a while for the...more
Melmoth the Wanderer is considered one of the highlights in Gothic Literature. Noted as one of Maturin's finer works (most others were not so well received), the novel focuses on a series of characters who meet and are tempted by the title character, Melmoth the Wanderer, a man who has sold his soul to the devil in exchange for prolonged life. Cursed, he wanders the globe looking for one willing to give their soul in place of his.

The premise is fascinating and many sections of the tale are diffi...more
J.M. Hushour
I tried really, really, really hard to like this book. Hell, Baudelaire and Wilde both loved it, so it can't be all bad could it? And scads of people regard it as a classic of the late Gothic genre, so it can't be all bad could it?
Why, yes...yes, it is! Plodding and dull, with around 50% of the text quotations from other works, including Gothic writers such as Radcliffe and Lewis, a peculiarity that maybe I've just never noticed in works of the time, there is little of note here. Maturin, a fine...more
Vasilios Kats
Τελειωσε ο κυριος Μελμοθ. Το πρωτο μισο εδειχνε για ενα πολλα υποσχομενο βιβλιο,ομως οσο περνουσε η ωρα,καποιες διηγησεις μεσα σε αλλες διηγησεις , αποδυναμωσαν λιγακι την ενταση της αναγνωσης σε σημειο να με κουρασει λιγακι η ,καποιες φορες, ασκοπη φλυαρια του.
Ο ματουριν φανηκε πως ηθελε να κανει επιδειξη γνωσεων σε καποια σημεια με αποτελεσμα να αφαιρει λιγο απο το ενδιαφερον του αναγνωστη. Ενα ωραιο βιβλιο,που θα μπορουσε να ειναι ακομη πιο ωραιο αν ελλειπε η ακατασχετη φλυαρια του συγγραφεα...more
Olivier Lepetit
Challenging read, but fascinating at the same time. A scathing criticism of catholicism, barely hidden by the story of Melmoth, a poor soul destined to wander the earth looking for someone to pass his curse on and allow him to pass away peacefully.

The structure of this novel is simply evil, with stories within stories within stories. I personally found the tale of the unwilling monk in the Spanish Inquisition times the best - truly horrifying at times.

I lost the plot in the Indian tale - especia...more
Genia Lukin
It's fun to be back, for a little while, to a time in which heroes were heroes, villains were villanious, and passions ran so high they spilled overboard.

Welcome to Melmoth the Wanderer - Gothic horror/Fantasy par excellence, which really doesn't know how to write about a sentiment without cranking it up to 11, and the going just a little more.

Meet Melmoth, the most villanious, diabolical villain ever, whose eyes can send people trembling and whose mere laughter can drive them mad. He's Faust li...more
Setting aside some forgivable overly-impassioned moments, Melmoth is written with vigour and elegance. Fundamentally a powerful anti-clerical melodrama, its nightmarish horrors and fiendish characters (Melmoth is often less objectionable than many of the book's non-diabolic inhabitants) are nicely balanced by a surprisingly large amount of grim humour.

Its chief flaw lies in the excessive length of the "Tale of the Indians", to my mind the least compelling of the various sub-narratives which comp...more
Sarah  Perry
Favourite parts:

"His hands, that had convulsively been catching at the blankets, let go their short and quivering grasp, and lay extended on the bed like the claws of some bird that had died of hunger . . . so meager, so yellow, so spread"

After burning the painting:
"You have burned me, then; but those are flames I can survive . . . . I am alive . . . I am beside you”

When Stanton is in the insane asylum

being taunted by Melmoth:
“You must be content with the spider and the rat, to crawl and...more
My Inner Shelf
Gros pavé que voilà mais ô combien jouissif ! Monument du roman gothique, romantique et fantastique, le Melmoth de Maturin nous offre là une fresque recouvrant tous les aspects du mythe de Faust, du suppôt de Satan errant parmi les hommes. Dépaysant et complexe dans sa construction, ce roman a pour héros un personnage quasiment absent, dont chaque récit, écrits, rapportés, offre un nouveau décor, un nouveau thème. Les différents récits nous transportent des geôles de l’Inquisition aux jungles id...more
Alan Hughes
Product Description

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 P

Bri Fidelity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
While parts of this were very interesting, it had one too many points that just dragged the reader down into the deep, dark depths of boredom. Also, a good chunk of it was just anti-Catholic propaganda, and while I'm not Catholic, I don't care for propaganda in general--unless, of course, it's a good read. Granted, the premise was very good, and the story of Immalee was enthralling, not to mention the actual story; but there was one too many stories within a story within a story. It became frust...more
H. Anne Stoj
Nov 18, 2008 H. Anne Stoj rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no idea
Recommended to H. Anne by: no one
Shelves: fiction
Egads and finally finished. Not that I disliked Melmoth. It just took forever for me to catch something that got my attention to keep me hooked. I'm going to go with the idea of early 19th century writing. I could easily see, later on, where Poe and Wilde were influenced by Maturin. Poe in particular with the images: the dark cramped places, the long twisting ways of escape, so on and so forth. Wilde, surely, wit the manipulation Melmoth works into his bargains with the various characters throug...more
A pesar de ser un libro muy, muy extenso (más de 1,000 páginas) me resultó menos pesado y difícil de lo que pensé. Eso sí, como no es una historia lineal sino que liga historias, una dentro de otra y así sucesivamente, hubo ocasiones en las que me perdí un poco, no supe quién estaba contando qué, en qué espacio de tiempo, a quién... Y de repente tuve que regresar dos o trescientas páginas pues entre tantos saltos cronológicos y narrativos me perdía. Eso sí, el lenguaje es espectacular, completam...more
A Gothic feast, but not quite to my taste. Aside from it being in the main rampant anti-Catholic propaganda, the structure was crude, with stories being retold within stories. That said, the character of Melmoth is a great one, a Faustian monster roaming the world looking for desperate beings prepared to trade their souls for relief from their present misery. Maturin stokes up the psychological torture well - paranoia and claustrophobia abound. Best read on stormy winter nights by the flickering...more
Lynz1g Grattan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David McMahon
The story started very well and builds nicely for a while. Sadly by the time we get to "The Spaniard's Tale" the pace grinds to a halt and we are left with characters having the same conversations for several hundred pages at a time. I'm no fan of Roman Catholicism but the author stops the narrative for tens of pages at a time to say how little he cares for it without actually saying anything at all. It's a shame since the shipwreck in particular is a very well constructed sequence but that prov...more
I finally, finally finished reading Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin. It's not that is was boring - it was just a lot of book that was hard to read very quickly. It was pretty hilarious the way Maturin kept building story, within story, within story by having a character tell a story, and then a character within that story tell a story, and so on until there were about 5 stories nested within one another within the first story. Pretty clever and a great gothic satire.
Ignacio Senao f
*HISTORIA: 5. Comienza muy fuerte: un joven que va a ver a su tío porque se está muriendo. Este tío cuidó del joven en su niñez, vive en un castillo y es la persona más del puño cerrado que he visto, el autor lo trata con un humor propio de la actualidad, con situaciones extremas e irónicas. EL chico ve un retrato de un familiar de hace 3 siglos, y su tío en su lecho de muerte le comenta que aun vive el del retrato…

Hasta aquí muy bien, pero luego es un cumulo de historias dentro de historias, q...more
Ευθυμία Δεσποτάκη
Δυστυχώς ήταν η συντετμημένη έκδοση. Μου άρεσε περισσότερο απ' όσο περίμενα. Χαριτωμένη μετάφραση, ωραία εμφάνιση του βιβλίου. Ακόμη και η γραμματοσειρά μού άρεσε. Έχει και δυο κατεβατά, ένα στην αρχή κι ένα στο τέλος σχετικά με τον Μάτσουριν. Αλλά όπως είπα, επειδή το πρωτότυπο είναι κάπως άνισο και μεγαλούτσικο (ως φαίνεται), ένας από τους εκδότες παρουσίασε μια κομμένη έκδοση στα αγγλικά κι αυτήν την έκδοση έχουν μεταφράσει. Δυστυχώς το κείμενο κόβεται σε παράξενα σημεία και γενικά, ο ΄ξένος...more
Tomas Boudreau
A snail lurching through a labyrinth.
Kirk Macleod
For the last few years I've been working my way through editors Kim Newman and Stephen Jones 1988 reading guide, Horror: the 100 Best Books.

At this point I've read roughly 75% of the novels and short story collections covered, which stretch back as far as Christopher Marlowe's 1592 play Doctor Faustus and as recently as Ramsey Campbell's short story collection Dark Feasts (1987).

Over the years I've read a lot of older horror novels and plays, and some of them still work as frightening reads for...more
I liked it, I didn't love it. It's very gothic, and I like gothic novels. It's like: ruined landscapes, check. Characters flirting with madness, check. Crumbling buildings, check. Events with both natural and supernatural explanations, check. (Assorted dealings with Powers Moste Eville? - check.)

There are bits of humour in there that I really liked - like when the Irish housekeeper admits that the candlesticks are all broken, and Melmoth (not the titular Melmoth, the other one), asks her how sh...more
Ryan McCarthy
Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, bloated, lurid, and incredible as it is, is everything I could ask from a Gothic novel. Like Moby Dick, it's big and clunky but its visionary greatness is undeniable. It is full of lengthy narratives entwined in lengthier narratives, recited by various characters from memory. To denounce the whole thing as ridiculous, tempting as it may be, would miss the point and shut you off from a very rich and intriguing experience.

The book takes us from the rocky cliffs of I...more
I give! UNCLE!!

This book got the best of me. I can't think of the last time I threw a book down in frustration after 250 pages. How do I get that far and give up? Well, Christmas may have something to do with it. Whenever I'm visiting someone's home and reading a book, people feel compelled to walk up to me and start talking. If I go try to hide, they come and find me to "check" on me and then the talking starts. All this damn Christmas cheer (bah humbug) makes it hard to read a book that requir...more
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Charles Maturin was an Irish Protestant clergyman (ordained by the Church of Ireland) and a writer of gothic plays and novels.

His first three works were published under the pseudonym Dennis Jasper Murphy and were critical and commercial failures. They did, however, catch the attention of Sir Walter Scott, who recommended Maturin's work to Lord Byron. With the help of these two literary luminaries,...more
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“There is no error more absurd, and yet more rooted in the heart of man, than the belief that his sufferings will promote his spiritual safety.” 15 likes
“Yes, I laugh at all mankind, and the imposition that they dare to practice when they talk of hearts. I laugh at human passions and human cares, vice and virtue, religion and impiety; they are all the result of petty localities, and artificial situation. One physical want, one severe and abrupt lesson from the colorless and shriveled lip of necessity, is worth all the logic of the empty wretches who have presumed to prate it, from Zeno down to Burgersdicius. It silences in a second all the feeble sophistry of conventional life, and ascetical passion.” 8 likes
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