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Melmoth the Wanderer

Charles Robert Maturin


The Gothic novel of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries often feature charismatic villains and brooding Byronic heroes. Melmoth, the mysterious title character, is both of these in this, Maturin’s best-known work and one of the last of the classic Gothic novels.

Melmoth the Wanderer is a slow-burning supernatural story of suspense and horror that follows the menacing, ageless Wanderer through a complex web of nested stories within stories, told by his would-be victims and others who have crossed his path over his unnaturally long life. Along the way the tales take us from nineteenth-century Ireland, to utopian Indian islands, to a romantic castle in the seventeenth-century English countryside, to Spain in the days of the Inquisition, where human horrors vie with the supernatural.

Maturin’s influence on the modern horror novel can be seen in later works like Dracula, another novel that follows its title character across Europe, while weaving the tales of different narrators into a portrait of a mysterious and terrifying figure.

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