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The Monk; Original Text, Variant Readings,…
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The Monk; Original Text, Variant Readings, and "a Note on the Text" (original 1796; edition 1952)

by Matthew Gregory Lewis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,204662,495 (3.8)1 / 360
Member:rictornorton
Title:The Monk; Original Text, Variant Readings, and "a Note on the Text"
Authors:Matthew Gregory Lewis
Info:Grove Press (1952), Hardcover
Collections:Eighteenth-century Literature, Gothic
Rating:
Tags:Gothic

Work details

The Monk by Matthew Lewis (1796)

  1. 50
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (DanLovesAlice)
    DanLovesAlice: Both texts share the notion of the duplicity of man, and study how society and social roles can imprison our most primitive urges.
  2. 40
    The Devil in Love by Jacques Cazotte (Jannes)
    Jannes: The Monk is generally considered to be heavily influenced by Le Diable amoureux, and the novels share several themes, most obviously the idea of the devil in the form of a seductive woman.
  3. 10
    The Italian by Ann Radcliffe (kara.shamy)
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English (60)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
‘’I must have your soul; must have it mine, and mine forever.’’

This is one of the pioneers of Gothic Fiction, a work that defined one of the most fascinating, demanding and controversial genres. A novel written in the end of the 18th century that shocked the reading audience of its time with its last, darkness and violence. But what about the contemporary readers? Well, a few hundred years later and ‘’The Monk’’ still continues to attract us. My first experience with Lewis’ novel took place during my studies, in an exciting course called ‘’The Bible in English Literature’’. Since then, I’ve overlooked reading it and I don’t know why. This Christmas, an amazing colleague gave me a collector’s edition as a Christmas present. I think she knows me well.

In Madrid, Ambrosio is a charismatic monk who dazzles the congregation with fiery sermons. A younger monk, Rosario, is his faithful shadow and confidante. However, Rosario is actually a young lady who has no other way to be close to him except disguising herself as a boy. Ambrosio discovers the truth and succumbs, because he is weak in spirit and in flesh. When his attentions turn to a young lady from a noble family, all Hell breaks loose. Literally, I assure you…

‘’The Monk’’ echoes Shakespeare and the Jacobite playwrights quite clearly. The cross-dressing, the scandalous love affairs, the ambivalent outcome, the extreme depiction of violence and punishment. The action is set in Spain, faithful to the stereotype which imagine the people of the Southern part of Europe as more vulnerable and governed by their passions, within a context that breaks apart the two institutions which are supposed to provide comfort and security. The Family and the Church. Dishonesty is common. ‘’Holy’’ men break their vows, noble sons try to trick virgins into their path, parents bargain their children away. It is a world far more terrifying than any satanic involvement could ever create and it is too real. Obsession leads to crimes and Lewis paints a dark portrait of a society that is corrupted to the core. Men and women blame God for their ‘’weak souls’’ while choosing a path that leads nowhere. The atmosphere is tangible with dark sensuality and violent lust and madness, as Lewis depicts a country and an era in all their attractive paranoia.

We live in the time when violence and sex are always around, often used to shock but ending up being nothing. We aren’t easily shocked now, exposed to them from an outrageously young age through TV and video games. ‘’The Monk’’ may seem to us anything but shocking. Some may say that it stereotypically places the women in the archetypal roles of the Seductress or the Virgin. Yes, well, obviously! Take the story within its historical context and you’ll have the explanation. But wouldn’t this be too simplistic to consider?

We love ‘’A Song of Ice and Fire’’ (most of us, at least….), we love Stephen King and Gothic Fiction has never been better both in Literature as well as in exceptional TV series like BBC’s ‘’Taboo’’. Violence, darkness and sexual implications don’t shock us, but dark stories of quality continue to fascinate us and will always do so. And by ‘’quality’’, I mean Literature, not mass-produced porn garbage...Darkness continues to rule many a life, forming a kind of obsession that may lead to horror and despair. This is why ‘’The Monk’’ still remains an iconic creation in the vastness of Literature.

I would also wholeheartedly suggest the 2011 film version of the novel, starring Vincent Cassel at his best.

My review can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
‘’I must have your soul; must have it mine, and mine forever.’’

This is one of the pioneers of Gothic Fiction, a work that defined one of the most fascinating, demanding and controversial genres. A novel written in the end of the 18th century that shocked the reading audience of its time with its last, darkness and violence. But what about the contemporary readers? Well, a few hundred years later and ‘’The Monk’’ still continues to attract us. My first experience with Lewis’ novel took place during my studies, in an exciting course called ‘’The Bible in English Literature’’. Since then, I’ve overlooked reading it and I don’t know why. This Christmas, an amazing colleague gave me a collector’s edition as a Christmas present. I think she knows me well.

In Madrid, Ambrosio is a charismatic monk who dazzles the congregation with fiery sermons. A younger monk, Rosario, is his faithful shadow and confidante. However, Rosario is actually a young lady who has no other way to be close to him except disguising herself as a boy. Ambrosio discovers the truth and succumbs, because he is weak in spirit and in flesh. When his attentions turn to a young lady from a noble family, all Hell breaks loose. Literally, I assure you…

‘’The Monk’’ echoes Shakespeare and the Jacobite playwrights quite clearly. The cross-dressing, the scandalous love affairs, the ambivalent outcome, the extreme depiction of violence and punishment. The action is set in Spain, faithful to the stereotype which imagine the people of the Southern part of Europe as more vulnerable and governed by their passions, within a context that breaks apart the two institutions which are supposed to provide comfort and security. The Family and the Church. Dishonesty is common. ‘’Holy’’ men break their vows, noble sons try to trick virgins into their path, parents bargain their children away. It is a world far more terrifying than any satanic involvement could ever create and it is too real. Obsession leads to crimes and Lewis paints a dark portrait of a society that is corrupted to the core. Men and women blame God for their ‘’weak souls’’ while choosing a path that leads nowhere. The atmosphere is tangible with dark sensuality and violent lust and madness, as Lewis depicts a country and an era in all their attractive paranoia.

We live in the time when violence and sex are always around, often used to shock but ending up being nothing. We aren’t easily shocked now, exposed to them from an outrageously young age through TV and video games. ‘’The Monk’’ may seem to us anything but shocking. Some may say that it stereotypically places the women in the archetypal roles of the Seductress or the Virgin. Yes, well, obviously! Take the story within its historical context and you’ll have the explanation. But wouldn’t this be too simplistic to consider?

We love ‘’A Song of Ice and Fire’’ (most of us, at least….), we love Stephen King and Gothic Fiction has never been better both in Literature as well as in exceptional TV series like BBC’s ‘’Taboo’’. Violence, darkness and sexual implications don’t shock us, but dark stories of quality continue to fascinate us and will always do so. And by ‘’quality’’, I mean Literature, not mass-produced porn garbage...Darkness continues to rule many a life, forming a kind of obsession that may lead to horror and despair. This is why ‘’The Monk’’ still remains an iconic creation in the vastness of Literature.

I would also wholeheartedly suggest the 2011 film version of the novel, starring Vincent Cassel at his best. ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
The book is considered one of the first Gothic novels and one that is "male Gothic" specializing in horror (according to Wikipedia) and was published in 1796 by Matthew Gregory Lewis (English Author). This story of scandalous behavior may have been even shocking at the time but not new. In the end, it reminded me of events found in the Bible and Greek literature. There really is a lot of characters and their intertwining lives was sometimes hard to keep track of but in the end it did all come together and centered on the main character of the Monk known as Ambrosio. He is about 30 years of age and has been raised in the Abbey his entire life and a favorite of all. It is the story of his demise because of the sin of pride. Matilda is known as Rosario, a boy, who gains access to Ambrosio through her disguise as a boy. She is the character of wickedness in the book and of supernatural forces and magical powers. Matilda has too much power and Ambrosio is weak. The book has a great deal of romance element with Matilda's love for Ambrosio, Agnes's love of Don Raymond, Don Lorenzo's love for Antonia. The novel is full of evil characters; the Prioress who misuses her power in ways that do not fit her station, the Monk with his sin of pride, lust and murder and others. The book is set during the inquisition and includes references to the tortures and auto-da-fé. The cripts, mouldering corpses and relics play parts to make the book truly a Gothic work. ( )
  Kristelh | Jan 6, 2018 |
I read this for my Gothic Studies class, and certainly wouldn't have picked it up on my own. I can't say I enjoyed it, but it was definitely interesting. I've certainly never looked at a priest the same way again. ( )
  erinla | Oct 31, 2017 |
“The Monk” is like nothing else I’ve ever read.

Although it’s poorly constructed in terms of paragraphing and certain structural elements – this was written in the 1790s, after all – the unusual yet original plot, its diverse themes, plus a rare cast of characters make up for any defects.

Every so often the author injects a line – usually in dialogue – that is such a surprise it made me pause with raised eyebrows; a “Did I read that right?” type of moment. Or, if you prefer, a “Bloody hell!” type of moment. I mean this in a positive way. Matthew Lewis could write the most unexpected twists in a tale.

The tone for the most part is a sinister one, yet every so often humour pops up to lighten the tone. We have sexual encounters and pure horror. “The Monk” is a blend of many themes that complement each other well. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Oct 25, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (156 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Matthew Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Anderson, HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fonzi, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gällmo, GunnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groom, NickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacLachlan, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McEvoy, EmmaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Praz, MarioContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula,sagas,
Nocturnos lemures, portentaque.
                  HORAT

Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power,
Witches, and ghosts who rove at midnight hour.
Dedication
First words
Scarcely had the abbey-bell tolled for five minutes, and already was the church of the Capuchins thronged with auditors.
Quotations
None sleep so profoundly, as those who are determined not to wake.
An Author, whether good or bad, or between both, is an Animal whom every body is privileged to attack, For though All are not able to write books, all conceive themselves able to judge them.
Agnes! Agnes! Thou art mine! / Agnes! Agnes! I am thine! / In my veins while blood shall roll / Thou art mine! / I am thine! / Thine thy body! / Thine my soul!
Raymond! Raymond! Thou art mine! / Raymond! Raymond! I am thine! / In my veins while blood shall roll / I am thine! / Thou art mine! / Mine thy body! / Mine thy soul!
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Although some early editions give the title as "Ambrosio, or the Monk," both the first edition and the overwhelming majority of later editions give the give merely as "The Monk". See the facsimile of the first edition's title-page in the 1952 Grove Press reprint.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140436030, Paperback)

‘Few could sustain the glance of his eye, at once fiery and penetrating’

Savaged by critics for its supposed profanity and obscenity, and bought in large numbers by readers eager to see whether it lived up to its lurid reputation, The Monk became a succès de scandale when it was published in 1796 – not least because its author was a member of parliament and only twenty years old. It recounts the diabolical decline of Ambrosio, a Capuchin superior, who succumbs first to temptations offered by a young girl who has entered his monastery disguised as a boy, and continues his descent with increasingly depraved acts of sorcery, murder, incest and torture. Combining sensationalism with acute psychological insight, this masterpiece of Gothic fiction is a powerful exploration of how violent and erotic impulses can break through the barriers of social and moral restraint.

This edition is based on the first edition of 1796, which appeared before Lewis’s revisions to avoid charges of blasphemy. In his introduction, Christopher MacLachlan discusses the novel’s place within the Gothic genre, and its themes of sexual desire and the abuse of power.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:48 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, this is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions tempts its main character into breaking his vows.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140436030, 0141191961, 0141199466

Valancourt Books

An edition of this book was published by Valancourt Books.

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