The Albigenses

An honest upright man is the worst implement that ever designing and corrupt hands meddled with, to work their foul and secret purpose.


"Fling all your warnings, voices of the dead, cries heard in the still night, or whispers from the tomb, all that terror has taught, or credulity believed, in one scale, and weigh it against the denunciatory voice of the living, who announces woe and can verify the announcement, and see how the scale inclines."


"Such, alas! is the tenacity with which we cling to creeds, and the ease with which we resign principles!"


"My victim! Ye are the victims of your own lusts, madness, and crime—victims of your own preparation. And then ye dare to accuse the stars—the elements—the hurtless operation of inanimate things. Yea, in your insane impotence, ye accuse that Heaven that renounces and hates ye! My victim! when was man a victim, but by his own agency?"

At first, The Albigenses may seem fairly conventional, and could readily be taken for the work of Walter Scott or Thomas B. Costain, rather than the author of the infamous and brilliantly bizarre Melmoth the Wanderer. Apparently Charles Maturin himself suffered from the infamy of that work. As he states in the preface to The Albigenses: "...I must demand of my reader's consideration, that the opinions and errors of my imaginary characters shall not be transferred to my own. In what singularly severe and injurious spirit this has been hitherto done, I need not say." Nonetheless, as the story progresses, Maturin's literary genius indeed shines forth in this nearly-forgotten treasure.

While I would characterize The Albigenses as chiefly a historical novel, there are numerous Gothic elements: nothing truly supernatural [there are no werewolves in the story, though there is a character who believes himself to be one: an example of lycanthropy in the pathological sense], but it incorporates superstition, psychological haunting, illusion, enigma, long-planned revenge, and dramatic violence. It also teems with analysis and commentary, sometimes sardonic, the most insightful and informed characters in the story being considered insane.

The text is from this scan and this scan of the 1824 edition, backed up by these scans. I corrected any obvious typographical errors, and standardized some inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation (most notably "Monfort" vs. "Montfort"). A unique occurrence of "muming" (in the sense of "mummy") was kept as is. Footnotes have been converted to end notes, and numbered accordingly.

So here it is: the master HTML version, the home-brew Kindle version, and the actual Amazon publication.

As Vidal the minstrel says, "Wo—wo to those, who, like me, dip the wings of their muse in wine to brighten her plumes, but lose and drown her in the attempt, and lose themselves after to seek her!"

September 23, 2023

ffred's nearly-forgotten treasures