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Melmoth the Wanderer
Charles Maturin
Written by an eccentric Anglican curate in Dublin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) brought the Gothic novel to a new pitch of claustrophobic intensity, surpassing the quiet tremors of Ann Radcliffe's romances in its reckless accumulation of cruelties and blasphemies. Its tormented villain, a Faustian transgressor desperately seeking a victim to release him from his fatal bargain with the devil, was regarded by Balzac as one of the great outcasts of modern literature. Intended partly as an attack on Roman Catholicism, Maturin's intriguing novel teeters giddily over abysses of sacrilege and raving paranoia, in moments of delirious panic worthy of Godwin or Poe.
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