Melmoth reconcilie is Honore Balzac's sequel to Charles Maturin's novel, and it becomes extremely interesting as it attempts to lead readers out of the Gothic into the world of proper bourgeois writing. Maturin becomes a soothsayer, disseminating in France the ashes and sparks of his words, to use a Shelleyan image. Melmoth journeys to France not only to inform Baudelairian darkness or Surrealistic fantasies, but also to signify how a life can be corroded by barren capitalism as well as instinct and desire. Melmoth the Wanderer darkly conveys the disturbing forces plaguing society, and depicts potential disruption and the violence inherent in humanity. Melmoth plays obsessively with textual boundaries, embedding narrative layers to create a fractal set of Chinese boxes. Melmoth's doomed, weary quest is shared by the reader who shifts from story to story at the very moment when satisfactory closure is denied.
From Mary Shelley and Sir John Franklin to Margaret Atwood and Dan Simmons
This chapter shows how the lost Sir John Franklin expedition has been repeatedly turned into a topos of textual haunting, casting a disturbing light less on the past than on present decay, pollution and global warming. Evolving from a cliche and a myth, the Franklin story has turned into an ecoGothic paradigm. The representation of the Arctic was linked to the Gothic by Mary Shelley's archetypal novel, Frankenstein. Recalling Shelley's Frankenstein, Dan Simmons's monster Tuunbaq shifts the stress from scientific hubris to the wish to achieve a balanced relationship with nature. Margaret Atwood's own short story entitled 'The Age of Lead' revisits the Franklin story from an ecoGothic perspective to offer an ironic reading of the process of exoneration. In 1984 forensic analysis added a twist to the Franklin variation on the Frankenstein scenario.