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Re: [mythsoc] Lewis and "Melmoth the Wanderer'

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  • David Bratman
    ... I suppose that my immediate reaction of spoiler alert! makes me unworthy. ... Then they weren t merely Irish Protestants, the vast bulk of whom are
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 1, 2011
      > The plot of Melmoth is confusing partly because we do not
      > learn the premise of the story until the end, where we
      > discover that Melmoth had purchased extended life by
      > selling his soul to the devil.

      I suppose that my immediate reaction of "spoiler alert!" makes me unworthy.

      > Maturin, like C. S. Lewis, was an Irish Protestant, indeed
      > a clergyman in the Church of Ireland.

      Then they weren't merely "Irish Protestants," the vast bulk of whom are
      nonconformists like Presbyterians. Maturin and Lewis were, then, both
      adherents of the Established Church of Ireland, a very small body and a much
      closer connection. Nicholson goes on to describe Wilde, Yeats, and Stephens
      as "Irish Protestants" also, but he doesn't say whether they were Church of
      Ireland or nonconfirmists. Insofar as sectarian distinctions are of any
      importance, this is.

      > It is not an accident that Wilde took the name of ‘Melmoth’
      > when he went into exile in France after imprisonment.

      And given the close association of the name of Melmoth with Wilde by Lewis's
      time, some comments on Lewis's opinion of Wilde - and could he separate the
      man from the work? - might be relevant here, if they're available.

      > I have not found explicit reference to Maturin in Lewis, but I
      > believe it is a near certainty that he had read Maturin. Lewis
      > read everything. He was especially interested in the fantastic,
      > an area he read very widely in. The work of Irish Protestants
      > held a deep interest for him, being an Irish Protestant himself

      Each sentence here is a separate and distinct plunge into the Sea of Rampant
      Speculation (or, if you prefer, a jump to the Isle of Conclusions).

      > But what really connects Melmoth and Perelandra is the situation
      > they focus on. In both cases, we are presented with an isolated
      > tropical island, where a beautiful but vulnerable young woman is
      > besieged by a demonic male who wants to take from her something
      > vital—her soul (it is not, as one might expect, sex that draws Melmoth
      > and Weston to the woman in question).

      Well, that settles it, then. Lewis couldn't possibly have come up with this
      on his own. (But in that case, where did Maturin get it?) I agree with
      Jason: "he might have simply written a comparative piece and then wondered,
      in his conclusion, whether Lewis might have read Melmoth."
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