Charles Maturin

Melmoth the Wanderer
  • Melmoth the Wanderer

  • The Penguin English Library Edition of Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin

    'My hour is come ... the clock of eternity is about to strike, but its knell must be unheard by mortal ears!'

    This violent, profound, baroque and blackly humorous novel is the story of Melmoth, who has sold his soul in exchange for immortality in a satanic bargain, and now preys on the helpless in their darkest moments, offering to ease their suffering if they will take his place and release him from his centuries of tortured wanderings. Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) blended Gothic fiction and psychological realism to create a work of hallucinatory power.

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Charles Robert Maturin (1782-1824) was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, going on to become a clergyman and writer of Gothic novels and plays. At first a failure, his work was nonetheless noticed by Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron, which led to the staging and success of his tragedy Bertram. (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, on the other hand, dismissed it as 'melancholy proof of the depravation of the public mind'.) His later plays and fiction, including Melmoth the Wanderer, were neglected and Maturin died in poverty. The work's brilliance was recognised posthumously, and it now endures as one of the most famous gothic novels in English literature.