The Monk: A Romance
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I gave up on this when I found I'd lost track of which characters were which.
I'm starting over - and this time I'm taking notes!
You'll really enjoy lyzard's tutoring. She's that good! If any one in your group is interested in being tutored through this book individually, ask her. She just might be willing to give it a go.
She also tutored me through The Castle of Otranto last year. If you're interested in that thread, let me know, and I'll try to find it for you or anyone else in the Gothic Literature group.
You'll probably identify with this. I was having a problem keeping the characters straight in The Monk so this is the diagram I made while working my way through that book (even with tutoring). I found that diagramming the relationships between characters, rather than just listing them, helped me a lot!
Hint: Start with a very LARGE sheet of paper! :)
ETA: It's a great book so make every effort to read it. You'll love the ending!!
I got side-tracked again and never made that start.
I have now, and with a large sketch pad for taking notes as in Squeaky's post.
No offence to Squeaky and lyzard, but I decided not to look at the tutored read until I'd finished the book, as I want to get my own impressions and ideas on it first. In the light of them, I shall enjoy reading through that thread afterwards, though ...
I've read the first chapter.
First impressions: I thought of Thackeray - it's striking me as a social satire stroke comedy, à la Vanity Fair. Well, except for the bit with Antonia and the rhyming gypsy suggesting strongly that it's not, of course.
The tutored read can be followed basically page by page. Everything is numbered and there are ***NO SPOILERS***. I'm pretty paranoid about that.
The Monk was great fun to read. I especially loved the ending.
Get yourself a copy of the book and follow this tutored read with lyzard (Liz).
I read it last year, but alaudacorax stopped posting a month ago, so I was curious about any progress!
#14 - Oops! Never got beyond the first chapter. It's been a rather hectic last month or so, not to mention that my sleep patterns got buggered up - again - and I don't think I read anything longer than a short story or magazine article - and I can't really remember the stuff I did read.
Anyway, a new year, New Year's Revolutions - determined to getting to grips with proper bedtimes, excessive weight, 'Currently reading' pile, and so forth and so on ...
Watch this space, as they say ...
I have just finished The Monk found this thread when I was searching for any comments on the book. Luckily I managed to read it within a fortnight and was able to keep track of the characters. The characters that threatened to get mixed up for me were Lorenzo and Raymond.
It is my plan to write a review/commentary and I hope to get it done this weekend. I must say it is a fantastic book.
alaudacorax, your comparison to Vanity Fair intrigued me. I read Vanity Fair in 1978 and loved it. You are now pushing me to considering a reread.
In relation to The Monk, I have seen it mentioned in various locations and always meant to read it given its Gothic nature. Only a couple of months ago I bought a copy. The timing of my reading it was prompted by my reading two books by Mervyn Wall. These were, The Unfortunate Fursey and The Return of Fursey. The Fursey books were recently republished by The Swan River Press. The first publication date for The Unfortunate Fursey was 1946 with the sequel coming out in 1948. Fursey was a mediaeval lay monk living in the monastery of Clonmacnoise in Ireland. The devil and his demons come to tempt the monks.
Wall's books were written as humour but also include social commentary on Ireland in the times when the books were written.
It struck me as a good idea to write a comparative piece on the differences and similarities between the Fursey novels and The Monk. It appealed to my sense of humour to compare what is primarily a comic story about a monk with what I thought at the time was a serious Gothic horror story. Now that I have read The Monk I can see a lot more similarities between the books than I had anticipated. I will post that here too, if people are interested.
I am paranoid about spoilers, so I will use the spoiler filter. This does present me with one problem, i.e. it will be very difficult to write about these books without spoilers, so you are warned.
By the way, I enjoyed all three books immensely and would recommend them wholeheartedly, as I would Vanity Fair.
I'm definitely interested in reading your thoughts on The Monk and the Fursey books...with the rather shamefaced caveat that I haven't read The Monk in over 20 years (despite having, in the meantime, got two nice editions of it), haven't read Fursey yet, and for that matter, haven't read Vanity Fair either.
Last year's British Library Exhibition (and the accompanying book, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination) tie The Monk in with the political and intellectual tumult flowing from the French Revolution. The book doesn't mention a comedic or satirical edge to Lewis's novel, and I don't particularly remember it having that - although its tone is a somewhat lofty 18th century Englishman's one, I seem to remember (and was not surprised by!). It doesn't, as far as I can recall, have anything comparable to the camp or even burlesque over-the-top moments of Beckford's Vathek.
>18 housefulofpaper: Vathek is one I have not read and of course it now has to go onto the list. I suspect you have thrown it into the mix to counterbalance the fact that you have not yet read the Fursey's or Vanity Fair. ;-)
In relation to editions of The Monk, Lewis's first edition was the one he withdrew and amended in response to the shock and horror of some people who made accusations of blasphemy, primarily for comments he made about the Bible not being suitable reading for a young lady. The edition I have is the Penguin Classic and, thankfully, it is based on the first edition rather than the watered down subsequent editions.
I can see how the book could be linked to the French Revolution and the general suspicion England would have of the Catholic Church, and England was, at the time terrified of invasion by the French. Having been subject to attempted invasion by the Spanish, Lewis's setting the novel in Madrid would help show how dangerous the Spanish are, and how influenced the people are by the Catholic Church.
The book is very much in the mould of Gothic novels that, as Jarlath Killeen would argue, were written with an underlying message that the Catholic Church is full of superstitious and dangerous tenets and practices, and that it harbours evil. Much of the symptoms of evil described in The Monk have been exposed as real in the scandals in the Catholic Church, particularly in Ireland, over recent decades.
In terms of the humour I would suggest you read the first three pages and then tell me whether or not the humour is apparent to you. I was rolling about laughing when reading those pages. (Note the use of hyperbole in my words.)
I'm really quite hampered in my reply by not having read the book recently! I'll readily concede that Lewis opens with a "funny bit" of observational comedy; but surely it's a truism that there are plenty of serious, even tragic, works that start on a misleadingly light note - or have moments of light relief throughout. A bit of contrast can even work to make the dark stuff even darker.
That said, I don't think the events of the book are funny - unless the reader finds anything other than strict realism intrinsically ridiculous, but presumably such a reader would also laugh at Hamlet and The Orestia. That being the case I'd suggest that any humour comes from the way the story's told. In this case, from Lewis' amused, patrician authorial voice. As evidence, maybe I can bring in the 2011 film version (dir. Dominik Moll) which I don't think has a single laugh throughout its whole running time.
If I can shamelessly mention Vathek again, by way of contrast, there are some scenes that play like outakes from a Tex Avery cartoon. (And yet, I get the sense that William Beckford had far more emotional investment in his Oriential Gothic tale than Matthew Lewis had The Monk).
>20 housefulofpaper: I agree that the main story events in the book are not funny, and the lead-in is a light relief that is used to introduce a character that is employed, in my opinion, to ridicule aspects of society in many parts of the book. Lewis also uses humour in the first pages to set up his ridicule of the Catholic Church with his descriptions of why the members of the congregation are attending the oration in the Cathedral.
In addition, the almost over-the-top piling on of misery in the novel can be considered humorous. Everybody's story contains tragedy. It is almost as if Lewis was trying to squeeze in every trope of the Gothic that he could think of.
Not having read Vathek I am unable to comment on your statement concerning emotional investment, but I believe Lewis was trying to use sensationalism to boost his book's popularity. In this context he was more intellectually involved than emotionally. His penchant for being quite graphic in describing some of the hideous scenes in his book could be seen as an attempt to push the boundaries of the genre or to be sensationalist, something he managed to do considering the reaction to the book when it was first released.
I look forward to reading Vathek and seeing how it compares with The Monk.
I know where you're coming from. I think I can recall having a similar sense of "over-the-topness" at times when I read the book. On the other hand, Lewis's contemporary readers - even sophisticated ones such as Lord Byron, Coleridge, and de Sade - don't seem to have felt the same (if there was a joke, I would have expected Byron and de Sade, at least, to get it).
I had a look at article on Lewis in The Penguin Encyclopaedia of Horror and the Supernatural. It's written by the late Gothic scholar Davendra P. Varma. Nowhere does he give any hint that Lewis was offering a burlesque or spoof, rather "Lewis has an instinct for drama and horror"..."The entire novel has a fascinating, compelling power".
>24 housefulofpaper: I am sure I will. I am only at the start where the new wings of his palace are being described. He obviously did not believe in deferred gratification.
housefulofpaper, I am making slow progress with Vathek due to opportunity to read rather than anything to do with the story. I am enjoying it. Stylistically I am finding it more akin to the Arabian Nights than The Monk. I am only about one third of my way through the story but I can see the Caliph is a selfish piece of work and his mother is nasty.
>24 housefulofpaper: I have finished Vathek. I enjoyed it and my comments can be found in my reading thread in the Green Dragon group, here.
Given Beckford's lifestyle and the parallels I noticed between Vathek and the author's own life I must agree with you about emotional involvement. This can only have been increased when the good Reverend who polished off the English translation published it and took the credit for translating the work straight from Arabic.
Other than over-the-topness I did not find anything particularly funny about the story. It is unapologetically evil.
Apart from tracing the success or otherwise of the protagonist in the face of temptation I do not see much in the way of commonality with either the Fursey books or The Monk.
On Wednesday evening I was able to attend a great event that Brian Showers organised in the name of The Swan River Press. It was a night of reminiscences of Mervyn Wall, the author of the Fursey books. It was an excellent night and took place in the National Library of Ireland.
I'd forgotten about the business with the Rev. Samuel Henley!
On the question of the humour in Vathek, I think my experience of reading the book was pretty close to yours, although the over the top passages threw me somewhat. Like this one, they seemed to be played for laughs:
"The Indian provided good sport, for, as he was short and plump, he had curled himself up into a ball, and rolled about from one point to another, followed by the guards and courtiers who pursued him with extraordinary enthusiasm. Rolling thus from hall to hall, from room to room, the ball drew after it all whom it encountered, and the whole palace, thrown into complete disorder, resounded to the most terrible din."(Translated by Herbert B. Grimsditch).
I think in the previous discussion about the book here, we touched on the somewhat slippery notion of "camp", and whether it would Vathek could be categorised as such.
I understand, from the Swan River Press Facebook page, that the Mervyn Wall event was recorded and Brian intends to post a link when its uploaded. I'm looking forward to that.
>28 housefulofpaper: "Camp" is a word not heard as frequently today as it would have been a couple of decades ago.
I can see how the discussion on whether or not the story is camp arose. Were elements of the story deliberately exaggerated for theatrical impact or were they written in this style due to Beckford's attempting to emulate the style of The Arabian Nights? As became public knowledge during the two Gulf wars it is not uncommon for hyperbole to be used in the Middle East. That is a real non-answer on the question of camp or not, but it does reinforce the validity of the question.
This novel will also be saved for next year, once Ann Radcliffe reveals her secrets to me in The Italian. As her final novel in 1797, it deserves a place of honour. With only five novels, some poetry, and a non-fiction travelogue of Holland and Germany, I am confident that I can get through them all before the New Year. Gulp.
Dusting off this thread so it's not out of sight out of mind. Will likely give myself six months to read all three; The Monk, The Italian, Melmoth the Wanderer.
Authors are young male, married lady sans enfants, and a great uncle (clergyman) of Oscar Wilde. Not sure I have been this excited about three monster-size classics ever! I have read Vanity Fair, survived Caleb Williams, I love a good gypsy, family tree reaches into Sicily on one side and into County Cork on another, etc.
Vathek, The Yellow Wallpaper, Uncle Silas by Le Fanu, Dacre, Brown, Beckford, Lovecraft, Machen, Bierce, etc. will all be on deck for the latter part of next year. Who knew there was a Gothic scholar (as housefulofpaper mentions above), so must research essays and authors as well as the stories themselves. Something tells me next year will pass by in a lightning flash. In any case, back to various tasks at hand (Faulkner/Hardy/Atwood/etc.) … finishing up Sep-Dec2018 with a bang, gulping up (down?) as many TBRs as possible!
-nb- whenever brackets/touchstones are placed around 'The Italian' it pops up as a film called The Italian Job =( I have seen that heist movie, but that's not what I want to reference here! Unsure how to redirect it to Radcliffe... ??!
>33 pgmcc: And you have a Dickens on the go which will soon be caught in my spokes, so we are fueling each other's literary folly fires ! I must admit, I am putting off Nicholas Nickleby due to the chapter count - Moby-Dick had over a hundred ugh. The Old Curiosity Shop has a smaller page count so should be manageable by Christmas.
As an aside, I was researching something on YouTube for my writing (difference between sociopath, psychopath, borderline pers.disorder, narcissist, etc.) and came across a questionnaire put together to study serial killers or psychopaths ... it caught my eye because the psychologist/psychiatrist was based in the province of British Columbia. What on earth would a Canadian be doing studying this realm, let alone a leading resource in the field?! Curiosity killed the cat, so followed along for the while, and what I saw was varying photos, questions, etc. given to healthy brains, unresponsive brains, determining the norm and the difference between social norms and lack of empathy, as a science.
One of the photographs was a cover of The Monk. I didn't know it at the time, but it is the photo of a woman, facing the front, bent in half with head lowered and hair flowing down. It is not a colourful photo, but almost a sepia (is that the right term?) brown/white like an old photograph of the old west or in Poe's time Boston. Anyway, interesting that they take that image, a character in the book, to incite a reaction of empathy. That really brought up the interest level in getting it underway asap! Not sure if I can locate that link again, but might try...
>34 frahealee: I found Nicholas Nickleby very entertaining. I flew through it. I find a high chapter count a good thing. A high chapter count can mean short chapters and I fly through a book with short chapters. I think I will stop reading and realise there are only two pages left to the chapter and read on, then find myself in the next chapter.
Your discovery of an expert on psychopaths in British Columbia unnerving. Are you now wondering why Canadians are such quiet people? Bwahahahah...
>35 pgmcc: Must admit, made me glad he was out west in B.C. and that his research and guinea pigs are 4000km away!
I saw the 75Bks group in January featured the book, but could not face it right then. Summer was set aside for other things, so postponed my Dickens to autumn/winter. Planning to do them back to back. Knowing the stories from mini-series exposure but always determined to slog through the detail, so humour definitely helps my pact!
>37 alaudacorax: Thank you for simplifying this for me … my sons told me never to click on something when I didn't know what it was. I had seen the (others) but was unsure where it would lead. Not terribly savvy with screens, as I can easily go days/weeks/months without them. I get things thrown at me, but I do it anyway. ; )
The touchstones are used more on my 50Bks thread than even within the gothic group, and whenever some unusual book/film surfaced, I found that if I included the bracket around the book title and the author, it usually did the trick. Now I know! Forgive me, but there will be many more stupid questions ahead...
>35 pgmcc: Found the link, and am reviewing the documentary, scanning for the visual of The Monk image …
but it must have let me to another YouTube empathy test site (image not here)
"He kisses or kills without a thought." Unsettling to say the least. To know all serial killers are psychopaths, but not all psychopaths are serial killers, some are successful in their own right. For some reason, the image that comes to mind, is Rufus Sewell in A Knight's Tale (2001) - such a great understated villainous imprint.
The man in B.C. is Prof.Hare (tallied points to answers out of max.40 and anything above 26 indicates psychopathy), Prof.Cooke (Forensic Psychologist) and another gent called Blair at Univ.College/Lon. (both in UK), Prof.Raine (neuroscientist/USC), so the documentary presents the global issue with sci/tech solutions based on % & ratios. Microchips, really? Caused me to turn to Maggie Smith (1993) in Suddenly, Last Summer with (RIP) Ms.Richardson and Rob Lowe … what nasty business, lobotomies ie. JFK's older sister, etc. According to the narrator:
"In Britain, it is estimated that one in every 200 is psychopathic."
"In America, it is estimated that one in a 100 of the population is psychopathic."
(unsure if Canada is included in this ratio, since we are part of North America, but not USA so assume not)
To my shame, my project of reading all of the 'key works' listed in Punter & Byron's The Gothic (in chronological order - I'm a bit OCD about these things) has been halted for something like four years by my inability to force myself through The Monk. I think I've tried and failed three times. I'm probably tempting fate writing this, but I am DEFINITELY reading The Monk as my 2019 New Year's Resolution. I might even take it with me over the holidays if I can find the damn thing. I'm trying (yet again) to shame myself into reading it by writing this post.
I shall be embarking on this with some venom, and
>39 alaudacorax: Good luck! If you make it through the whole book, you’ll love the ending!
>9 alaudacorax: Don’t be afraid of the tutored thread. It’s structured in such a way as to not divulge spoilers or move ahead of where you’re reading. Just follow the headings for what to read before you move ahead on that thread. Your reactions are your own and might not agree with mine. Feel free to post your reactions there for others to read!
Yes, I like to go either alphabetically or chronologically, depending on the mood, and if author or book. With a writer I respect, I like to follow their professional progression from early to later works. Sometimes with short stories I make an alphabetical list and collect them one at a time, according to what the library has available, etc. So easy to go astray either way. This author was so young, with a burgeoning genre, that I am willing to forgive a multitude of sins to arrive at the finish line.
I am hitting Radcliffe first, then Lewis, then Maturin. Unsure how much time to allocate but they'll be done by Easter. Good luck with your continued perseverance!
A few chapters in now, I'll post this link for my own future reference, since the audio summary is not part of my Kobo/ebook edition. So far, so great! Looooved The Italian, wow, what a twisty convoluted trippy start to my year. I wish Radcliffe had written another five or ten, so might have to seek out her non-fiction too.
Although this link could be better placed in the 'gothic motif' thread, it is the intro to The Monk, so here it stays.
http://ia600704.us.archive.org/31/items/monk_1112_librivox/monk_00_lewis.mp3 (just over 30min)
>39 alaudacorax: You said you like to go through the gothic collection chronologically? Which work follows The Monk? I'm curious.
One thing I was not expecting, was gaps in the text...
I have the ebook, but when my daughter uses her computer I have no access to Kobo (it is a desktop version only, I have no portable device), so I use my son's old laptop instead, and follow along on the University of Adelaide site. I happened to have the audiobook playing as I read along with the second portion of chapter two, and noticed an entire stanza missing, but I don't know if that is the case on Kobo, or just the UofA page. I feel like I need to read chapter two all over again, upstairs on the Kobo version just to test my theory. Has that ever happened to anyone? It happened also last year with F.Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, a free online audiobook, but it was a whole chapter missing! Since then, be it online text or online audiobook, I make sure to do both at the same time, to hold both accountable for missing/incorrect content. Mispronunciations are bad enough, and to be expected, but not skipped text. Time to retreat back into the world of paperbacks and hardcovers ... nothing like the true source, even with odd typos. Sigh.
>45 frahealee:, the chronological list of 'key works' in The Gothic is -
The Castle of Otranto, 1764
The Mysteries of Udolpho, 1794
Caleb Williams, 1794 (got right up my nose)
The Monk, 1796
Frankenstein, 1818, revised 1831
Melmoth the Wanderer, 1820
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, 1824
Wuthering Heights, 1847
The Woman in White, 1860
Uncle Silas, 1864
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1886
The Turn of the Screw, 1898
Interview with the Vampire, 1976
The Shining, 1977
American Psycho, 1991
By the way, The Gothic is an excellent guide or reference book to have. Before the 'Key works' section it has a 'Gothic writers' section that covers seventy-odd writers
>44 frahealee: - I wish Radcliffe had written another five or ten ...
Have you finished all seven of her novels? You're shaming me, I've had a beautiful collection here for quite a while, and I've yet to read them - always meant to start on them after I'd finished the 'Key works'. I sort of slowly fell in love with 'Udolpho' though, eventually reading it two or three times in quite a short period.
>48 alaudacorax: Only five. I read them in this order; Romance of the Forest, Sicilian Romance, Udolpho, Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, The Italian. All within the past year. Houseful said he has a nice edition within reach of his desk (?) when I first strummed through the gothic options.
Thanks for that thorough list. I have so many on my wish list or TBR (what's the difference, btw?) that it is nice to see where the overlapping discussions lead me. =)
I have finished chapter five and LOVE this book!
The Castle of Otranto - read in 2018 (Kobo/ebook)
Vathek - to read this year
The Mysteries of Udolpho - read in 2018 (Kobo/ebook)
Caleb Williams - read in 2018 (online)
The Monk - current (Kobo/ebook)
Frankenstein - read in 2016/2017 (borrowed from local library)
Melmoth the Wanderer - to read this year (Kobo/ebook)
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner - to read this year (Kobo/ebook)
Wuthering Heights - have read too many times to count! hardcover beaten to a pulp
The Woman in White - ordered clothbound hardcover to read this year, asap
Uncle Silas - read in 2018 (final book of the year, overlapped with The Italian)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - too many to count! hardcover thoroughly beaten up by my boys
Dracula - read in OCT2018
The Turn of the Screw - to read this year (Kobo/ebook)
Psycho - on a back burner, if ever
Interview with the Vampire - consciously avoided it, but must succumb eventually (2020?)
The Shining - to read in October this year (my non-CanLit Hallowe'en horror option)
American Psycho - hmmm...
Could the differences be down to Lewis toning down/bowdlerising the novel in the second and later editions? I know he did this when the book's notoriety started to work against his career as an M.P. Can you check which text the different media are using?
Where am I with the key works?
The Castle of Otranto - read twice. Have a nice Folio Society edition now.
Vathek - read. Have a nice Folio Society edition of this too.
The Mysteries of Udolpho - still to read, but have in (surprise) Folio's Mrs Radcliffe box set.
Caleb Williams - unowned, unread.
The Monk - read 20+ years ago. Have ended up with 2 nice hardback editions in recent years.
Frankenstein - read the 1818 text in OUP paperback edition in the 1990s. Have the standard text in Folio hardback to read.
Melmoth the Wanderer - Red the Folio Society edition in 1993.
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner - Read, in a Folio Society edition
Wuthering Heights - the shame! Started last year had to stop. Will restart this year.
The Woman in White - unread.
Uncle Silas - read in (you guessed it) a Folio Society edition.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Read this. Yes,, in a Folio Society edition.
Dracula - First read in the '90s. Now have in multiple editions.
The Turn of the Screw - not read yet. it's in a collection of Henry James's ghost stories and I'm currently two away from it, i think.
Psycho - not read, don't own. Only read some of Bloch's Lovecraftian short fiction(which can mostly be classed as juvenilia), so far.
Interview with the Vampire - not read, not really tempted.
The Shining - Read recently. Folio Society edition... :)
American Psycho - no interest in this at all, I'm afraid.
>51 housefulofpaper: That's likely it. The same thing just happened in chapter seven. A portion of the audiobook left out some of the text I was reading in front of me. In chapter two, the audiobook read a stanza that was not in print. I had heard about the inconsistencies, but forgot about it. Thanks.
Your comments made me chuckle. =) I had no knowledge of 'Folio' until LT came along. My sister is disgusted at my inability to tell veneer from real wood, polyester/rayon from silk, etc. since she was educated in the worth of antiques and old world style and sympathies. You tend to not care when everything comes in covered in grass stains or table cloths. With me, it's all about the words. I would love to wall myself in with bookshelves and fill them to the brim, but in my 54 years, I have only lived in an 'owned' abode for eight of them. Get out the tiny violins... Maybe in my coffin, custom made with real hardwood book shelves!
>52 frahealee: - Maybe in my coffin, custom made with real hardwood book shelves!
Yup - you definitely belong in the LT, Gothic Literature group ...
>53 alaudacorax: Teehee =D It gives me something to do during my extended stay in Purgatory, helping to pass the time. Like on public transit in Toronto, if I'm reading with my eyes down, the many others might let me be...
I am starting chapter ten today and hope to have it completed by dusk. I seem to be flapping back and forth between my current self and my past 20something self as I read. Most unsettling! In both my judgement of the story and of its author, it is very difficult to separate the two in my mind as I proceed. Whether that spoils the finale or not, we shall see...
I love spending time in Spain though, after revelling in Italy (The Italian) and England (Uncle Silas).
>50 frahealee:,>51 housefulofpaper:
Well, I've read as far as The Monk and got stuck on that, as I've said.
I notice you both seem a bit dismissive of Interview with the Vampire. You may be right: I've read the book and seen the film, though maybe a decade back, but it doesn't speak well that I can remember very little of either.
The Woman in White is another of those embarrassing books where I have to admit I gave up half-way through, though I remember quite enjoying Collins' The Moonstone, both many years ago, I think.
Frankenstein is one of my all-time favourites. It's connected in my mind with Heart of Darkness because I always seem to find something new when I re-read either. It gives me great pleasure that it's now regarded as a classic well beyond the horror/Gothic genre because it's definitely the kind of book my schoolteachers wouldn't let us read.
Loved Uncle Silas and read it together with our missing leader, Jourdain, and had an enjoyable PM conversation about it. I have a backlist of reading on Le Fanu I really should get on with.
Dracula: as with almost all of Stoker I feel he had the potential to be a lot better than he actually was. Having said that, I've read and enjoyed it several times.
Wuthering Heights is an odd one. I feel I read it as a teenager, but I'm really not sure if that's true or I'm misremembering a couple of film adaptations
Um ... that's it, not very good is it, considering I made a start on deliberately reading this list years - oh my god! - over seven years ago. New Year's Resolutions ... New Year's Resolutions ... New Year's Resolutions ... New Year's Resolutions ...
>55 pgmcc: That is exactly what has happened. My eldest son turned 22 yesterday, and my twin boys are 20. I have the mother's tendency to want to impose my rules on them at every turn, but forcefully step back to let them experience the consequence of their own actions. A lot of the time, I see Lewis as thumbing his nose at established institutions, while holding a political seat of his own, in tantrum fashion, which makes me laugh. At other times, I pity him. Still again, the story carries me through non-stop visceral experiences that are so unrelenting, I need to catch my breath between chapters. I can see why the story has legs.
>57 frahealee: Lewis, in his capacity as a British politician and diplomat was an adamant advocate for Protestantism and was vehementally opposed to Catholic Europe with which England was at loggerheads at the time. The Monk is inferred to be an attack on Catholic Europe, France being the intended target but Spain used to preserve plausible deniability. The demonisation of the Catholic Church is present in many Gothic novels, starting with The Castle of Otranto. While Lewis tempered some of his more extreme elements in The Monk it was to avoid upsetting the decency of his readers. The fact he was attacking Catholic Europe was a boon to his political career in the eyes of his political masters and the audience he was targeting.
The Monk is delish. I'm surprised you couldn't get on with it, Paul, I'd say it's a much pacier read than Frankenstein.
There's an amusing paradox in the English Gothic classics having an anti-Catholic strain when the Gothic sensibility borrows so much from the traditions and the aesthetics of the (mostly Catholic) Continent.
All done! Going to let the dust settle before scribing thoughts here. The audio option again was different than the Kobo/ebook text, so unsure which was the original and which was the revamp. Might read more background, or might jump right into the Beetle before tackling Melmoth. Might read them alternately, depends on my access to my daughter's laptop... but hope to have both done by month end.
Now where's my rosary?!… (I feel like I need a long scalding bath after that one, to remove layers of gunk)
Funny thing, as my daughter and I listened to our nightly audio Rosary (Fri/Sorrowful Mysteries), good ole Matthew Lewis flitted through my mind. Wouldn't that drive him bonkers, knowing two RC gals in 2019 were praying for the repose of his soul (if still in Purgatory)?! … "and may perpetual light shine upon them". Made me smirk.
>17 pgmcc: Now you've made me want to read Vanity Fair again also. These overlaps are a killer! My clothbound hardcover of The Woman in White arrived yesterday, and although much smaller in size than expected (thick, with 700p. but not high/wide, it is handsome though!), it fits into my hands nicely, without fear of papercuts from the cover (happens more often than you'd think, between my thumb and first finger, arrrgh). It doesn't slip, or feel heavy, so I am looking forward to reading it. There are similar versions for Vanity Fair, Dante's Divine Comedy, and many other classics, etc. so we shall see how long my resolution of delayed gratification (a form of self-mortification, pre-Lent) holds firm. No more impulse buys. Be gone!
FYI, I did read a bit of the tutorial, and after 50 posts got me to only chapter two, I gave up. My RC background makes me all too familiar with confrontation or criticism of the external judgements non-Catholics put on my Faith. It is far too personal for me to discuss, even sometimes with my own children, so as my Mum used to say, if you have nothing good to say, say nothing. I found the experience of reading the tutorial frustrating, so I abandoned it. I would much rather spend my time reading my next ventures, The Beetle on Kobo/ebook and Melmoth the Wanderer via audio.
Some of the comments made above and in that other link, were revealing, now that I know the ending, but again, now that I've read it, I don't feel a need to justify it by extensive analysis. I am sure there is plenty of grist for the mill, but I'm going to keep it as a piece of gothic entertainment. The fact that The Mysteries of Udolpho was discouraged as a reading opportunity, made me sad. I revelled in the poetry and sense of place. Each to his/her own.
BTW, I cannot remember when I started reading The Monk, but since today is the 12th, it is definitely less than two weeks. The Irish monk sounds intriguing, but another time...
For the record, I still prefer Frankenstein to The Monk. Pace is not important to me, but the visuals I'm left with are, and I find the Creature more sympathetic than Ambrosio, no question.
Here's what my collection of the key works looks like. The turn of the Screw is contained in the Tartarus Press edition of James' ghost stories. Some books, as discussed, are missing.
That is a nice set of books. I have the same folio edition of Uncle Silas but most the others of the key works I have are paperbacks.
Now, if we were talking Aickman and Ligotti I have first editions and Tartarus Press editions. But we are not.
Hmm--I have those same editions (FS) of The Castle of Otranto and Dracula... Used to have that same Wuthering heights... My edition of The Monk is the 1952 Grove Press hardcover with variant versions and the introduction by John Berryman. I have Hogg in the 1927 Cresset edition, again with an interesting intro, this time by Gide...
My Vathek (1962, Club français du livre) isn't of bibliophile interest, but it's Beckford's French original, introduced by Mallarmé and illustrated by Paul Elie. Cover:
They're a thing of beauty! =) Do you ever write inside them, or does that devalue each volume? I don't mean scribble notes, I mean the date or place you got it, or from whom.
Thanks! I missed out on the 2-volume Tartarus Press Aickmans, but I made sure I got all their reprints (from 2010 onwards?) of the original volumes of short stories (plus the two volumes of autobiography and, gratingly out of place, the "Faber Finds" paperback of The Late Breakfasters.
I have very few first editions. One I'm quite pleased to have is Arthur Machen's Hieroglyphics (Grant Richards, 1902). There's no interesting story behind my acquiring it, sadly; I was merely browsing on AbeBooks, saw it listed, and thought "I'm having that" :)
The FS Uncle Silas was a real bargain. I bought it in a second hand bookshop whose owner hated hardbacks and saw no resale value in a book from a "reprint house". It was under a fiver, I think (I had to make a repair recently as the hinge was coming away. I wiggled some PVA glue down it using a bamboo skewer. I think that's pretty much the same way that the professionals do it!
I paid over the odds for the Vathek though, in a proper antiquarian bookshop near the British Museum. Even so, it was just about the only thing I could afford.
Although the copy of Melmoth the Wanderer was delivered by post, I happened to see the original cover art and interior painted illustrations when they were on display in the window of Folio's temporary London home in early 1993. This was the antiquarian booksellers Henry Sotheran (a different establishment from the one mentioned above).
There's a bombastic listing for that Grove Press edition on AbeBooks :)
The Cresset Press Hogg sounds like a nice edition. I went and found a copy of the press's edition of Robert Herrick's complete poems when it was being discussed in the Fine Press Forum group a few years ago.
The Vathek looks attractive too, bibliophile interest or not. And you can read the original text. This is the moment in the discussion when I become self-conscious and a little guilty about my lack of a second language (never mind a third or a fourth...)
I don't write in them. i suppose it would devalue them but I don't buy them as investments or think about resale value. It's more that the way I acquire them is so pedestrian there doesn't seem much point in memorialising it. If the circumstances are even a tiny bit interesting I tend to remember it (as per above!). The copy of Hieroglyphics is inscribed by the original owner, "G O (or A) Harris September 1st 1902".
Well, without a nickel to my name, I'm living vicariously through all of you. Thanks for lending out these impressive images to savour. I feel like Belle walking into Beast's library, eyes agog...
>66 housefulofpaper: I managed to get the second printing of the two volume Tartarus Press Aickmans. That will always cause me anguish. :-)
I have two former library copies of The Late Breakfasters first edition. I have bought the F&F copies of the story collections but for some reason have balked at getting the F&F Late Breakfasters. I really enjoyed reading The Late Breakfasters and I keep thinking that the F&F copy is too dear, especially when I have two copies of the first edition. Bibliophilia makes us do strange things and use weird logic.
As it happens I have a funny tale to tell about my acquiring the Folio edition of Uncle Silas.
I was at a book fair in Dublin's Tara Towers hotel and came across a bookcase of gothic and horror books with "Everything half marked price" written on a label and pinned to one of the shelves. Now, this book fair, held every quarter, attracts all sorts of book dealers, some of them rather crusty and abrasive. One such crusty and abrasive dealer was blocking the bookcase and making sure he was getting first pick of the good stuff. He was quite large and forbidding looking and he had already reaped quite a stack of loot from the shelves in question. I scanned the remaining books as best I could from a position behind said crusty and abrasive dealer and spied the Uncle Silas.
Once the dealer was satisfied he had taken everything of worth from the bookcase he moved and I managed to slip in and take Uncle Silas from the top shelf. When I slipped the book out of its case I found €16 written on the inside cover. On presenting it for payment I was charged €8 and was delighted when the crusty and abrasive dealer who had paid for his books and was still talking to the dealer we were buying from spotted the volume and let out a loud gasp and roared, "How the hell did I miss that!"
Little victories. Little victories. They mean so much.
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