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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
3,275682,492 (3.8)1 / 370
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
    The Strange Case of 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 (63)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  All languages (68)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
This book faces all of the problems of the much-imitated, as well as those of the really, really old. The language is stilted, there's too much exposition, in the first two chapters I saw the fates of most of the main characters set in stone. Of course, knowing the ending is not truly an excuse for not reading or watching something - its the experience. Whatever. I'll agree with that when the exertion of reading through the text doesn't feel so much like homework. So sorry The Monk, sorry Brian - you lent me this in good faith - but I'm calling it. I gave it a long break and another day's commute and evening - no sparks. Not in the mood for this type of melodrama right now, or in the conceivable future. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
3.5 stars

Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power, Witches, and ghosts who rove at midnight hour.

I read this for the Classic Horror Halloween Bingo square.
It's said this was written by a 19/20 yr old and within 10 weeks, which if true, is amazing. The format of having a main character, Ambrosio (the monk), and then having secondary characters branch off from him and tangentially going astray and telling their stories, only to have them all come together in the end, was extremely compelling. I was expecting more creepiness, it takes until the 50% mark for a ghost to appear:

At length the Clock struck two. The Apparition rose from her seat, and approached the side of the bed. She grasped with her icy fingers my hand which hung lifeless upon the Coverture, and pressing her cold lips to mine, again repeated, "Raymond! Raymond! Thou art mine! Raymond! Raymond! I am thine! &c.----" She then dropped my hand, quitted the chamber with slow steps, and the Door closed after her. Till that moment the faculties of my body had been all suspended; Those of my mind had alone been waking. The charm now ceased to operate: The blood which had been frozen in my veins rushed back to my heart with violence: I uttered a deep groan, and sank lifeless upon my pillow.

Until the last 30-20% the story is really about love, lust, and jealousy. As an atheist I don't hold religious individuals, rather they be in high ranking positions in the church, to a higher regard. I don't think it is any more crazy that a monk would give into his lust than an average non-religious male. (Not talking about Ambrosio's later desire to rape Antonia; he wants her and she doesn't want him. This is a different issue than him being turned on by Mathilda who willing wants to sleep with him) Religious individuals might find this story more, I don't know, worrisome because of the themes of non-infallibility regarding sin; no one is safe from the devil.

I did really enjoy how the author played around with the themes of religious doctrine and the hypocrisy/corruption of its supposed devout leaders, men putting the blame on women for their failings, jealousy, and power. If you read this looking for a Gothic, I think you'd hit the gold mine with it's verbiage and tone. Like I mentioned, the more creepy scenes didn't have a strong presence until the ending with the Devil making a strong appearance:

He appeared in all that ugliness which since his fall from heaven had been his portion: His blasted limbs still bore marks of the Almighty's thunder: A swarthy darkness spread itself over his gigantic form: His hands and feet were armed with long Talons: Fury glared in his eyes, which might have struck the bravest heart with terror: Over his huge shoulders waved two enormous sable wings; and his hair was supplied by living snakes, which twined themselves round his brows with frightful hissings. In one hand He held a roll of parchment, and in the other an iron pen. Still the lightning flashed around him, and the Thunder with repeated bursts, seemed to announce the dissolution of Nature.

This story had some twists and turns with characters having some pretty intriguing life stories. I didn't find it as outlandish as some reviews led me to believe it was going to be (a lot mention how Ambrosio lusts and rapes his sister. He didn't know it was his sister during his obsession, so calling him incestuous seems a bit unfair). I read a small amount of horror stories and watch a ton of horror movies so maybe my creep/crazy bar is set too high but I did notice two movies were made about this and Netflix has the 2011 on DVD so I'll be adding it to the queue.

Man was born for society. However little He may be attached to the World, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to be wholly forgotten by it. ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Feb 14, 2019 |
This was amazingly ridiculous and I loved every minute of it ( )
  ElleGato | Sep 27, 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.

My review can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
1 vote 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 |
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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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