Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1820

Melmoth the Wanderer (Lock and Key Version) ebook

Charles Robert Maturin

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Fragment ebooka Melmoth the Wanderer (Lock and Key Version) - Charles Robert Maturin

About Maturin:

Charles Robert Maturin, also known as C.R. Maturin (born September 25, 1782 in Dublin; died October 30, 1824 in Dublin) was an Anglo-Irish Protestant clergyman (ordained by the Church of Ireland) and a writer of gothic plays and novels. Descended from a Huguenot family, he attended Trinity College, Dublin. Shortly after being ordained as curate of Loughrea in 1803, he married acclaimed singer Henrietta Kingsbury, a sister of Sarah Kingsbury, whose daughter, Jane Wilde, was the mother of Oscar Wilde. Thus Charles Maturin was Oscar Wilde's great-uncle by marriage. 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, the curate's play, Bertram (staged at Drury Lane for 22 nights) saw a wider audience and became a success. Financial success, however, eluded Maturin, as the play's run coincided with his father's unemployment and another relative's bankruptcy, both of them assisted by the fledgling writer. To make matters worse, Samuel Taylor Coleridge publicly denounced the play as dull and loathsome, and "melancholy proof of the depravation of the public mind," going nearly so far as to decry it as atheistic. The Church of Ireland took note of these and earlier criticisms and, having discovered the identity of Bertram's author (Maturin had shed his nom de plume to collect the profits from the play), subsequently barred Maturin's further clerical advancement. Forced to support his wife and four children by writing (his salary as curate was L80-90 per annum, compared to the L1000 he made for Bertram), he switched back from playwright to novelist after a string of his plays met with failure. Maturin died in Dublin on 30 October 1824, after which rumours (none of them confirmed or proven) circulated that he had committed suicide. Honoré de Balzac and Charles Baudelaire later expressed fondness for Maturin's work, particularly his most famous novel, Melmoth the Wanderer.

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Balzac likens the hero of one of his short stories to “Moliere’s Don Juan, Goethe’s Faust, Byron’s Manfred, Maturin’s Melmoth—great allegorical figures drawn by the greatest men of genius in Europe.”

“But what is ‘Melmoth’? Why is HE classed as ‘a great allegorical figure’?” exclaimed many a surprised reader. Few had perused—few know at this day—the terrible story of Melmoth the Wanderer, half man, half devil, who has bartered away his soul for the glory of power and knowledge, and, repenting of his bargain, tries again and again to persuade some desperate human to change places with him— penetrates to the refuge of misery, the death chamber, even the madhouse, seeking one in such utter agony as to accept his help, and take his curse—but ever fails.

Why this extraordinary tale, told with wild and compelling sweep, has remained so deep in oblivion, appears immediately on a glance at the original. The author, Charles Robert Maturin, a needy, eccentric Irish clergyman of 1780–1824, could cause intense suspense and horror—could read keenly into human motives—could teach an awful moral lesson in the guise of fascinating fiction, but he could not stick to a long story with simplicity. His dozens of shifting scenes, his fantastic coils of “tales within tales” sadly perplex the reader of “Melmoth” in the first version. It is hoped, however, that the present selection, by its directness and the clearness of the story thread, may please the modern reader better than the involved original, and bring before a wider public some of the most gripping descriptions ever penned in English.

In Volume IV of these stories comes a tale, “Melmoth Reconciled,” which Balzac himself wrote, while under the spell of Maturin’s “great allegorical figure.” Here the unhappy being succeeds in his purpose. The story takes place in mocking, careless Paris, “that branch establishment of hell”; a cashier, on the eve of embezzlement and detection, cynically accedes to Melmoth’s terms, and accepts his help—with what unlooked-for results, the reader may see.