Melmoth the Wanderer is a gothic novel published in 1820, written by Charles Robert Maturin (uncle of Jane Wilde who was mother of Oscar Wilde).

The central character, John Melmoth (a Wandering Jew type), is a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for 150 extra years of life and spends that time searching for someone who will take over the pact for him. The novel actually takes place in the present, but this back story is revealed through several nested stories-within-a-story that work backwards through time (usually through the Gothic trope of old books).

Pasted from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melmoth_the_Wanderer>