Melmoth the Wanderer

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Melmoth the Wanderer

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1alaudacorax
des. 21, 2018, 4:17am

2pgmcc
des. 21, 2018, 4:54am

I finished reading this within the past fortnight and have been trying to put my thoughts down on paper. It has many, many layers and I find it cannot be separated from Maturin's life and his personal circumstances, not to mention the historical context, both on a European and Irish level.

I look forward to the discussion.

3frahealee
des. 22, 2018, 6:20am

I am very much looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one as well in the New Year! The Gothic is a far deeper well than initially expected, so cheers to the many years ahead of dusting off classics and hidden gems alike.

4alaudacorax
des. 22, 2018, 8:58am

To my shame, my project of reading all of the 'key works' listed in Punter & Byron's The Gothic (in chronological order - I'm a bit OCD about these things) has been halted for something like four years by my inability to force myself through The Monk. I think I've tried and failed three times. I'm probably tempting fate writing this, but I am DEFINITELY reading The Monk as my 2019 New Year's Resolution. I might even take it with me over the holidays if I can find the damn thing. I'm trying (probably 'again') to shame myself into reading it by writing this post.

Then it's Frankenstein - an old favourite I know I can get through, and then I'll finally get to 'Melmoth'.

5frahealee
Editat: des. 22, 2018, 12:42pm

Use whatever carrot you need in order to lead the cart. =) My horse is chasing Dickens & Dunsany, Hawthorne & Melville, DHLawrence & Hardy, Faulkner & Wharton, etc. Might mix in some satire to offset the heavy nature of these bottomless options (ie. Candide, Babbitt).

6frahealee
gen. 14, 2019, 10:15pm

Loving this...

7frahealee
gen. 16, 2019, 2:13pm

Although slightly less scandalous, I am finding this one much harder slogging. Got to chapter 20 and hit a wall. Stepped away, then returned. It's unclear if this is due to it being the final of my big four, and I need to step away from the genre, or if it is down to the book itself. Only 39 chapters, but feels much longer even than Moby-Dick. I would read Melville again, but am not entirely sure about this one.

It feels like the narrator has me by the throat the whole time, slowly suffocating, without realizing it...

8housefulofpaper
gen. 16, 2019, 3:59pm

>7 frahealee:

It's part and parcel of Gothic literature, I think. The physiological effects it has on the reader through empathy with the suffering of the characters, and the suspense maintained over hundreds of pages.

9pgmcc
Editat: gen. 16, 2019, 5:13pm

>7 frahealee: & >8 housefulofpaper:
Maturin did go on a bit when making point. When he had gotten a point over he tended to give a few more cycles of philosophy to make sure you got his point. The nesting of one story within another story within another story takes a bit of tracking. I took notes to keep aware of where I was.

I suspect he may have intended it for serial release which would explain the continuing nature of his point making.

My awareness of the political and sectarian context of the book’s writing, and of Maturin’s personal circumstances obviously added to the reading experience for me.

10frahealee
Editat: gen. 16, 2019, 8:15pm

>8 housefulofpaper: >9 pgmcc:
Thank you for your input, gentlemen. I thought it might be misplaced paranoia, but maybe you're right and it is pure empathy. My ex- worked away from home a lot when our kids were small, so it was a good idea to avoid all of those cop/doctor/morgue tv shows that were shoved at an innocent audience, before the influx of reality shows, all of which I avoid like the plague. I have been on my own with my four children since 2005 (moving back to Ontario from Alberta) and giving up tv entirely when the Canadian broadcasters switched from analogue to digital was not as hard as you'd think. I only really missed Coronation Street teehee, but this is the very first time a book has done this to me. I'm really rattled. Not my Faith, but more my ability to absorb the detail contained in the story itself, and feel full to the brim with 'water tension' barely contained. I thought The Monk would take much much more out of me, with all the characters, but I have been going hard since Uncle Silas in December, so maybe just need to float on my back for awhile. Radcliffe's offerings were easier, though lengthy, so might be worth a revisit to colour my world again. This Melmoth the Wanderer character is bleak and dismal, and when combined with the Jesuits and conniving families and Immalee really started raising welts on my proverbial flesh. No one left to trust. =( The Beetle was the lightest romp of the bunch.

Reading Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady was a nice change of pace today. =) Tonight? I knew special nurturing was in order with Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice 2001 (CBC audio recording of Paul Soles as Shylock and Lucy Peacock as Portia, and she is still there in all her glory, playing Satan in Paradise Lost last year!). 3hrs of bliss, ahhh... it's like a verbal warm bath. I have never been the Harlequin type. Not even for airport reads! I might not have the scholastic ability to properly study these literary works but my enthusiasm and appreciation is usually unquenchable.

11frahealee
Editat: gen. 17, 2019, 9:25am

After a day away, with final chapters 21-39 looming, it was essential to splash my face with water before a restart. My refreshment:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK8uueeqqMI The Making of Cairo Time.

It had been on my mind since completing The Beetle. The geography of place, the setting of any story, is so intrinsic to my enjoyment of it that it often shapes the memory long after. Without a strong image, it fades away. The music, customs, coffee all make it a sensual feast.

The link is here, in case I need to reach for it once more before the end of this vast arid landscape:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlQIjWy4WJo Cairo Time (2009) Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig. Yum. Yep, big ole Trekkie.

It may disappear overnight from the corners of YouTube, but until then, I will enjoy it. Yes, I know it is an unremitting love story, but it is also a love letter to the filmmaker's parents through the eyes of a young fearless Arabic Canadian woman. To see the child labour, the street life, the baked brick shades of the community, is essential. It's not just about the couple, or the pyramids, or the finale. It is about the quiet moments in between, the subtle observations that are precious because they are rare, private. This is what I must remind myself to look for during the reading of Melmoth the Wanderer... seek out the sprinkling of hidden gems.

Whatever works.

12frahealee
Editat: gen. 18, 2019, 8:48am

Egad. Still slogging. Chapters 21-28 left in a burning trail behind me. I feel flayed, but determined. There is no book I have left unfinished. Many left unread but never incomplete once started. Any books you've struggled with or walked away from? Gothic or not.

13frahealee
gen. 18, 2019, 4:18pm

Finished. Literally. I need an Epsom soak to pull out the toxins in my brain that might be filtering through my nervous system. That felt like reading four different books all strung together by one mind-manipulating bored rapscallion. Yes, I felt for him, and yes, I hated him. All of my empathy was with the slaughter of the innocents, not those suffering from excessive stupidity. Charming yes, but he needed a sock in the jaw by at least one of them. Again, when some tried, he cut them down because 'they did not obey' and then he blamed their own behavior for their demise. Good grief, Charlie Brown. I'm sure there are multiple lessons in there, but I'm too tired to care. Feet up, eyes closed. Luckily I already have a crucifix and rosaries and other Sacramentals in every room in the house, so I'm good for the night.

14pgmcc
gen. 18, 2019, 5:23pm

>13 frahealee: Well done. You have earned indulgences that will save you a thousand years in Purgatory.

15frahealee
gen. 18, 2019, 5:30pm

I love a man who understands the value of mortifications ... I might even pick up a Plenary ! =)

Is it weird that I want to take James Hogg for a spin, or maybe Clarissa teehee! I don't know the difference between sadism and masochism but I certainly better understand torture now.

I must say, the buckets of holy water image on his head made me laugh rather than cry.

16pgmcc
gen. 18, 2019, 6:16pm

>15 frahealee: During the WWII blitz in Belfast my parents and an aunt took shelter under the stairs in their house. My aunt had a lemonade bottle (about a pint and a half capacity) of holy water. They stayed under the stairs all night saying the rosary and listening to the bombs landing around them. Every time a bomb exploded my aunt would shower them all with holy water. My father said that when the all clear sounded they emerged from under the stairs soaking wet from the holy water.

A neigbhours house was hit that night and the family of fourteen died. A nearby bombshelter took a direct hit and over one hundred died there.

17frahealee
Editat: març 5, 2019, 8:47am

>16 pgmcc: News like that is still so shocking to me, that it is within a generation. A lot of the politics and religious discipline went right over my head because it was not my experience, and my father was VERY protective of his four daughters. They (the town) never saw him without a white shirt and tie for years, even when he took us to the quarry to swim. I think residents were wary of him, Sicilian blood and all. He used to 'infer' about what global events were happening, but would not let us near a newspaper (good thing, I am allergic to ink) or the six o'clock news. He monitored tv usage and books that came into the house, but I never felt oppressed, actually it freed me to step out with confidence that he always put us first. He had holy water in the glove box, bedrooms (usually where the sick would be) and one in the kitchen way up high, just in case. He did the majority of the cooking...

I'm very pleased your family came through the devastation intact. Even your elevated-swing-story on a Sunday was an eye opener. To take something like that for granted... wow. I need to read more Irish stories. I find it convoluted and frustrating, not just frightening, but I still mix up the GB vs UK vs England thing. I'm hopeless.

I have it stashed, from the font at my son's Baptism in 1997 but fortunately have never needed to use it. He may or may not be engaged, so I might toss some on his girlfriend. My grandfather was born in 1901 and my dad in 1930, so they both missed their respective wars, but my Uncle Joe lied about his age and signed up for the first one, and returned safely. My grandmother's second husband, she married an old beau after my grandfather died (before I was born so never met him), well he returned from Dieppe, which I understand was rare. I find military history very tough, but so important. I wouldn't let my kids play with even toy guns or sticks shaped like guns, so of course all three became cadets and one has joined the military as a med-tech. We were both a mess after watching Mel Gibson's film, Hacksaw Ridge (2016). I have it on dvd/blu-ray and some days I just can't face it.

I have slotted in Justified Sinner for September, bumped Clarissa to 2020, and will do Varney in Feb, and give myself six months to get through The Woman In White, since I have seen the mini-series and really want to take my time with it. Next up, some wintery Jack London. Films after books, of course! Storm tomorrow...

18pgmcc
gen. 22, 2019, 6:42am

>17 frahealee:

but I still mix up the GB vs UK vs England thing.

For those not living in the small islands off the west coast of Europe the whole GB, UK, England thing is quite confusing. Even for some people living here it is quite confusing. For your information I shall try to explain the differences.

"Britain" is the island containing the three separate countries, England, Scotland and Wales. When you include the islands around the coast of Britain, it is called Great Britain. I believe the origin of this was the term Greater Britain to mean Britain plus the islands, in the same way that London refers to a central part of the city and Greater London refers to the central part plus all the surrounding areas that are now generally included in the term London.

"Ireland" is the last island to the west of Britain and before you hit North America.

Ireland has 32 counties which are grouped into four provinces. The provinces are, Ulster, Connaught, Munster and Leinster. Ulster has nine counties, Antrim, Down, Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal. After the partition of Ireland, six of the Ulster counties become what is known as Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland is included within the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is a shortened name for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Before partition the British ruled the whole of Ireland and the full title of the UK at that time was The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

After partition the remaining 26 counties of Ireland became the Irish Free State which had a separate parliament but was still a Dominion of the British empire. The country was official declared a Republic in 1949 but had effectively been on since 1937 when its constitution was created. During the 1916 Rising the Republic had been declared but it took a while to have it finalised. This period included The War of Independence (that started 100 years ago yesterday) and The Irish Civil War. The country is often referred to as The Republic of Ireland but its official name is Ireland, or in Irish, Éire.

19WeeTurtle
Editat: març 3, 2019, 6:18am

Have you ever read a thread backwards because you read the first post, skim, and then wonder how the heck a turned into f and then go back post by post to find out why?

I'm exploring more Gothic Lit, or trying to, but I'm wondering how much of my fondness is actually from Gothic literature and how much is more Gothic's relation to Weird?

I'm looking for come stories to read since I know "all" or even "all of part x" is never going to happen. It sounds Melmoth here might not be the sort of thing I like to read. Nasty, unsympathetic characters are not people I generally like to read about, such that I'll toss even a good read if there's a character I can't stand.

Does this story take place in a specific war or is it something of a long tale? "the wander" makes me think that this character spends a lot of time travelling, which could be physical or temporal. What I've read here concerns me a little as far as would I enjoy the book, but hearing things about GB, Ireland, and such tend to catch my interest given that's a sizable chunk of my ancestry.

20haydninvienna
març 4, 2019, 5:21am

Just as a grace note to what pgmcc said, don't assume that all the islands are included in the United Kingdom. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are parts of the Queen's dominions but are not parts of the United Kingdom. The Queen rules them directly and makes law for them by Order in Council rather than through the Parliament at Westminster. I once had the unusual experience of drafting an Order in Council for Guernsey.

21WeeTurtle
març 4, 2019, 9:14pm

>20 haydninvienna: My "uncle" (of sorts, long story) encouraged me to speak to an Irish friend of his before I went so I could get a run down on places to see and such, and general knowledge. Turned out she was Irish but her husband was Manx (if I have that right). The conversation turned to the Isle of Man, and other little islands in the area. Can't remember much though, except that it seemed to make official things difficult for him from time to time.

22frahealee
Editat: març 7, 2019, 8:45am

>19 WeeTurtle: The 'Irish' tangent was the result of the poster not the storyline. Pgmcc is in Ireland and has made a few comments scattered between different threads of the Gothic Literature group that give a different but at the same time familiar perspective on many of these stories. He has read many that I want to read, but his experience growing up in Ireland is vastly different than growing up in Canada. It really had little to do with Melmoth. The Catholic elements were easy to relate to for both of us, which helped in the long run. There isn't any particular war segment; he enters the religious life and takes his vows against his will, his experiences are less than inspirational, but the fact that he understands the polar opposites of good vs. evil makes him culpable for each decision and action. The stakes are higher, so the people he encounters and chooses to 'corrupt' are doomed no matter what they do. The wandering is the continuation of his own experiences after his 'hamster' falls off the wheel in the cage he has constructed, or dies. He moves on to the next, in another context, in another space. There might be a dozen different victims, each with their own backstory before he encounters them. It is just an awful lot to keep straight. That being said, I felt raw after reading it but was glad to have accomplished the feat. You have to read it to get it. Frustrated or not. There is an expiration time for his wandering curse, which allows him to find a witness to record his final days.

ETA: Also, the author is from Dublin, and as a Protestant minister, had an inner agenda to take a dig at RC culture whenever possible. I had been focussed on EngLit and Gothic Literature in England (ie. Brontes) so it was refreshing to see the Irish twist on the trope. I was married to an Irishman for a dozen years (still am technically) so can also understand the underlying melancholy, the role of alcohol, desertion, the humour and jester tendencies. Not so much as a stereotype but as a sympathetic eye with a front row seat. This is what made me want to pursue more Irish literature, either the setting or the author. All in time.

23WeeTurtle
març 5, 2019, 10:15pm

>22 frahealee: I see. That's interesting. I'll still need to make a list to see what to keep on top of. I keep encountering so much reading options and lose a few every time I bump into new ones. Woops.

24frahealee
Editat: març 6, 2019, 3:27pm

>23 WeeTurtle: Several I discovered on the 1001 books to read before you die list, once I had found them in the Gothic Literature group. Not that it made me want to read them more than I already did, but it was nice to recognize titles as I scanned it. I will never read them all, but it builds awareness for time periods/eras, for authors with more than one title on the list, for format (long vs short), for longevity vs surprising upstarts. The cross referencing can make you bonkers, but when the dust settles, it is good to see the underlying connections when the ocean water gets drained out. The islands. (that is my attempt at a Milton nod) Some really are isolated, flukes, but others dig down to excavate wonderful colourful submerged layers, exposing likeness in common with more than just plot/person/place.