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Martin Faber

The Story of a Criminal with “Confessions of a Murder”

William Gilmore Simms, John Caldwell Guilds

Publication Year: 2006

This Gothic tale is reminiscent of James Hogg’s Confessions of a Sinner and was written four years before Edgar Allan Poe’s “William Wilson.” Narrated in the first person, it is considered a pioneering examination of criminal psychology. Martin seduces then murders Emily so that he might marry another woman, Constance. Martin confesses to his friend and is killed after attempting to stab Constance when she visits him in jail.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

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Preface to the Arkansas Edition

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pp. xi-xii

William Gilmore Simms needs to be read to be appreciated, and he can be neither read nor appreciated unless his works are made available. Thus I am pleased to edit for the University of Arkansas Press the Selected Fiction of William Gilmore Simms: Arkansas Edition, beginning with Guy Rivers: A Tale of Georgia. ...

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Special Note to Martin Faber

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pp. xiii-xiv

Martin Faber departs slightly from the procedures outlined in the original preface to Guy Rivers. For the first time a provision in that preface is applicable to a volume in the Arkansas Edition: “if a critical text (established under CEAA or other comparable standards) exists, such text is the copy-text.” ...

William Gilmore Simms Chronology

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pp. xv-xviii

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pp. xix-xxx

William Gilmore Simms’s ambivalence toward his future is illustrated in a single paragraph from a letter of January 19, 1833, to his ever more intimate friend, James Lawson. “Things go wildly in this quarter,” Simms wrote, “and I only linger in So. Caro. until something takes place. ...

Reproduction of Title Page

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Advertisement to the Second Edition

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pp. 1-5

The story of “Martin Faber” was published two years ago—it was published under some few disadvantages. It happened to be put forth shortly after the appearance of a book called “Miserrimus,” and, unhappily, it was soon found that a monstrous family likeness existed between the two performances. The coincidences were numerous. ...

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Chapter I

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pp. 5-8

This is a fearful precipice, but I dare look upon it. What, indeed, may I not dare—what have I not dared! I look before me, and, but for that awful strife—that gross exposure—the hissing scorn—the deriding shout—but for these, the prospect of death, terrible to all men, would have few or no terrors for me. ...

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Chapter II

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pp. 8-11

There was at the school to which I went, a boy about twelve years of age—the same age with myself. His name was William Harding—he was the only child of a widow—a lady, living a retired life—of blameless character, and a disposition the most amiable and shrinking. ...

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Chapter III

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pp. 11-14

While in that room shut up, what were my emotions! The spirit of a demon was working within me, and the passions acting as they did, with an unwonted degree of violence upon my spirit nearly exhausted my body. I threw myself upon the floor, and wept—hot, scalding and bitter tears. ...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 14-18

Under the direction of a more supple tutor than the first, I finished my education, if so we may call it. William Harding was still my associate. He was still the same nervous, susceptible, gentle youth; and though, as he grew older, the more yielding points of his character became modified in his association with society, ...

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Chapter V

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pp. 18-20

That girl was the most artless—the most innocent of all God’s creatures. Strange! that she should be condemned as a sacrifice to the wishes of the worst and wildest. But, it was her fate, not less than mine! Need I say that I—whose touch has cursed and contaminated all whose ill fortunes doomed them to any connexion with mine ...

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Chapter VI

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pp. 20-25

A sense of caution—or it may be of shame—determined me to keep the proposed marriage, as long as I well could, from the knowledge of the one being whom it most injured. A few days before that which had been assigned for the event, I proceeded to the place of our usual rendezvous. ...

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Chapter VII

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pp. 25-27

I breathed not—I lived not for a minute. My senses were gone— my eyes were in the air, in the water, in the woods, but I dared not turn them, even for an instant, to the still imploring glance of that now fixed and terrifying look of appeal. Still it pursued me, and I was forced to see ...

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 27-28

I left the rock, slowly and frequently looking behind me. Sometimes my fancies confirmed to my sight the phantom of the murdered girl, issuing from the gaping aperture, and with waving arms, threatening and denouncing me. But I sternly put down these weak intruders. ...

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Chapter IX

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pp. 28-30

The night came, appointed for my marriage with the beautiful and wealthy Constance Claiborne. Attended by William Harding, who, strange to say, in spite of the manifest and radical differences of character existing between us, was yet my principal companion, I was punctual to the hour of appointment. ...

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Chapter X

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pp. 30-33

To the reflective mind, I need not say that no happiness awaited me on my marriage. Still less necessary to say that the amount of happiness which fell to the lot of my wife was equally, if not more limited. A temper like mine—so impatient, and so without resources—could not long suffer a dependant or an associate to remain at peace. ...

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Chapter XI

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pp. 33-35

Several months had now elapsed since our marriage; and in that time, as might have been expected, my young wife and domestic associations had lost most of their attractions—in my eyes at least. My resources were now always out of doors—carousing sometimes, but frequently solitary and savage. ...

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Chapter XII

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pp. 35-37

Several days had passed since this conference, and, contrary to his custom, Harding, in all this time, had kept out of my sight. His absence was felt by both Constance and myself. He had been, of late, almost the only companion known to either of us. Why I liked him I knew not. ...

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Chapter XIII

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pp. 38-42

I was cited before the Justice, and the testimony of William Harding delivered with the most circumstantial minuteness, was taken down in my presence. Never did I see a more striking instance of conscience struggling with feeling—never had I conceived of so complete a conquest of one over the other. ...

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Chapter XIV

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pp. 42-45

It is strange, that, with my extended and perfect knowledge of human character, and my great love of mental and moral analysis, I should have suffered myself to be taken in by these external shows on the part of my victim. Strange, that so sudden—so unlooked for, an alteration from his wonted habit had not aroused my jealousy ...

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Chapter XV

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pp. 45-49

In accordance with his design, and in this respect, my own habits and disposition favored him largely, he was with me at all hours—we were inseparable. He pretended a taste for gunning, and though a poor sportsman, provided with the usual accoutrements, he would sally forth with me, day after day, ...

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Chapter XVI

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pp. 49-54

We had in our village, among its other wonders, a small building, which, by a stretch of liberal indulgence, had been denominated “the Academy of Fine Arts.” It was almost our only lion, and we made the most of it. Its collection was poor enough and large enough, and always on the increase, ...

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Chapter XVII

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pp. 54-57

Fate had me in its power, and I was blind. If I were not weak enough, of myself, to reveal the secrets of my soul, and its crimes, I was not less the creature of a destiny, which, in the end, set at nought my profoundest cunning, and proved my wisdom to be the arrantest folly. I look back now with wonder at my own stupidity. ...

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Chapter XVIII

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pp. 57-59

He came to me in my dungeon—he, my accuser—my enemy—my friend. In the first emotions of my wrath, I would have strangled him if I could, and I shook my chains in his face, and I muttered savage curses and deep threats in his ears. He stood patiently and unmoved. ...

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Chapter XIX

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pp. 59-64

The day of retribution—of a fearful trial, is come!—Horrible mockery!—the sunlight streams through the iron grating, and falls upon the straw of this accursed dungeon. How beautifully—how wooingly it looks—lovelier than ever, about to be forever lost! ...

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Chapter XX

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p. 64-64

The hour is come, and that mournful ghost is again before me. She points me to the scaffold, which rises dreadfully up before the barred window of my dungeon. They come—the stern guard, and the loathsome executioner. Oh, cursed weakness, that my own hand should fail me in that moment of release ... .


Historical and Textual Commentary

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pp. 67-71

Explanatory Notes

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pp. 72

Textual Notes and Emendations

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pp. 73-82

Text of “Confessions of a Murder”

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pp. 83-89

Reproduction of Title Page of Revised Martin Faber (1837)

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pp. 90

Reproduction of Dedication of Revised Martin Faber (1837)

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pp. 91-92

Reproduction of Title Page and First Page of “Miserrimus

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pp. 93

Reproduction of First Page of Martin Faber as republished in the London Romancist

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pp. 94

Select Bibliography

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pp. 95-96

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781610752602
E-ISBN-10: 1610752600
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557288103
Print-ISBN-10: 1557288100

Page Count: 132
Illustrations: 4 plates
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Abbott, Shirley -- Childhood and youth.
  • Abbott, Alfred Bemont.
  • Fathers and daughters -- United States.
  • Bookmakers (Gambling) -- Family relationships -- Arkansas -- Hot Springs.
  • Authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography.
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