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The wild Irish boy and the national tale
Christina Morin

Charles Robert Maturin's second novel, The wild Irish boy, is very much aware of its ghostly inheritance. This chapter examines Maturin's novel as something more than a mere 'opportunistic imitation' of Sydney Owenson. In The wild Irish boy, Maturin produces a conglomerate novel, an intriguing mixture of society novel, national tale, Gothic novel, and early stirrings of both the Silver Fork novel and the roman a clef. This attests to and underlines the fractured nature of contemporary Irish fiction and society. Maturin's inclusion of a 'The wild Irish girl' costume further comments on Owenson's well-documented habit of appearing in public dressed as Glorvina and performing as her famous Irish princess. The heavy intertextuality of Maturin's novel, including its references to Owenson and The wild Irish girl, participate in a specific act of masculinisation undertaken by a 'purposeful borrowing from, resistance to, and remaking of, female-authored models'.

in Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of Irish Romantic fiction
Rereading Melmoth the wanderer
Christina Morin

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.

in Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of Irish Romantic fiction
The medium and media of Fatal revenge
Christina Morin

Charles Robert Maturin's first novel, Fatal revenge, fundamentally pivots on the return of the dead. For Maturin's readers, Fatal revenge's insistent emphasis on the incestuousness of genders and genres may well have appeared particularly striking in the context of the contemporary Irish social and political scene. Maturin's The Milesian chief is identified as the transition point between the national tale and the historical novel as well as that between the national tale and the Gothic novel of the later nineteenth century. Fatal revenge acts as a primary literary juncture. In fact, it might be analysed usefully as a medium between Gothic novel and national tale, possessing elements of both. Fatal revenge vitally mixes the two, and, in so doing, stresses the fundamental importance of a Gothic sense of the past in the national tale.

in Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of Irish Romantic fiction
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The burden of words in Women; or pour et contre
Christina Morin

Charles Robert Maturin's deployment of a vast body of literary allusions in Women; or pour et contre allows the voices of other authors and several literary forms to speak to and inform the reader. To speak of the burden of words in Women is to point to the central role that speech, words, and plurality play in the narrative as in its construction. Women explores the current state of religious sectarianism in Ireland, focusing on the internal segregation of the Church of Ireland into competing orthodox and evangelical groups. Disrupted by Emancipation and the Evangelical movement, Maturin's Ireland 'limp(s) along', like marriage in Romantic fiction, but it does so in a confused and disorderly state of incomprehension.

in Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of Irish Romantic fiction
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The textual ruins of The Milesian chief
Christina Morin

Evidencing the literary hybridity of The Milesian Chief, Charles Robert Maturin's novel begins with a traditional national tale plot but graphically transforms and skews its conventions. The Milesian Chief has been described very rightly as 'a ruin text'; a text about the ruins and ruin of a nation. The Milesian Chief is a ruin itself, a physical reminder of the devastation of Irish history, forever haunted by the ghosts of the past, the (fictional) bodies sacrificed to history heaving within its pages. Confirming its status as a ruin text, Maturin's text echoes with the ghostly voices of the Gothic novel, the national tale, and the historical novel. It emerges as a hybrid text that accurately reflects the social, cultural, and political fragmentation of the author's contemporary Ireland. Irish reality, Maturin declares, is haunted by the past, preventing any kind of meaningful mediation between conflicting temporal or, indeed, geographical zones.

in Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of Irish Romantic fiction
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Spectres of Maturin; or, the ghosts of Irish Romantic fiction
Christina Morin

Charles Robert Maturin's fiction, with its explicit use of Gothic themes and motifs, provides a perfect window into the continued influence of the Gothic novel in Irish Romantic fiction. A revenant-like figure, Maturin continues to exert something akin to the 'horrible fascination' attributed to the 'unearthly glare' of his living-dead creation. A kind of ghost lurking in the corridors of Irish literature and literary history, Maturin is very much a Derridean spectre haunting literary production in Romantic Ireland and beyond. The violence of the past, even when acknowledged, will always form the bulk of the Irish individual's social inheritance. Similarly, previous literary forms will continue to influence, however subtly, later literary texts long after they have ostensibly died away. The chapter also presents some of the key concepts of this book.

in Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of Irish Romantic fiction
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The life and works
Christina Morin

This chapter traces the major people, dates, and places of Charles Robert Maturin's life. Critical suspicion of Maturin is evident in early studies of the Irish novel in which Maturin is very often dismissed as a mere imitator of Owenson, with questionable literary skill at best. More recently, work on Irish literature gestures towards an acknowledgement of Maturin's literary importance. This more often than not confirms his peripheral position in the annals of Irish literary history by reproducing him as a marginal figure. In this respect, Irish literary history has largely erased Maturin's existence from the central narrative of early nineteenth-century Irish literature, thereby effectively 'un-Maturin(ing)' Irish Romantic literature and its historiography. In so doing, twentieth- and twenty-first-century criticism has produced and supported a general cultural ignorance when it comes to Maturin and the details of his life.

in Charles Robert Maturin and the haunting of Irish Romantic fiction