August 24, 2007

Melmoth the Wanderer by Maturin

I spent an hour this week browsing in the local public library. I found this amazing passage from Charles Robert Maturin's 1820 novel Melmoth the Wanderer (conveniently I could grab this passage, which I photocopied from a book called The Gothic Flame, from Project Gutenberg):

"The next moment I was chained to my chair again,--the fires were lit, the bells rang out, the litanies were sung;--my feet were scorched to a cinder,--my muscles cracked, my blood and marrow hissed, my flesh consumed like shrinking leather,--the bones of my legs hung two black withering and moveless sticks in the ascending blaze;--it ascended, caught my hair,--I was crowned with fire,--my head was a ball of molten metal, my eyes flashed and melted in their sockets;--I opened my mouth, it drank fire,--I closed it, the fire was within,...and we burned, and burned! I was a cinder body and soul in my dream."

The edition with the best cover seems to be the Spanish translation--Melmoth el errabundo:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for mentioning that vivid passage - there are many more like it in Melmoth. The book justifies its considerable length by the sheer power of the writing - you feel along with the characters as they make harrowing journeys out of captivity, and usually into the snares of the title character - you fear for them, but Melmoth himself earns your reluctant sympathy. It's a delicious book! Thank you also for finding the best cover - nicely twisted!