Paratextual possession
Rereading Melmoth the wanderer
in Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of Irish Romantic fiction
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Incomprehension suffered by Ireland and its people at the close of Women; or pour et contre has been a frequent response to Charles Robert Maturin's fifth and most famous novel, Melmoth the wanderer. As Maturin wrote Melmoth, Ireland became, in essence, 'symbolically spread' throughout the novel by way of the paratext. Despite the geographical and temporal differences between tales, as well as the huge cast of characters, the composite stories repeat, reflect, and mirror each other. Such repetition and reflection constructs Melmoth's various tales as, in effect, a house of mirrors, a convoluted maze of mirrors around which the fairgoer-cum-reader must navigate to find the exit/conclusion. Recalling earlier Gothic novels by way of its interpolated tales, Melmoth contains repeated direct references to both the Gothic novel as a form and specific examples of the Gothic novel.


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