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The Monk (Dover Thrift Editions) by Matthew…
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The Monk (Dover Thrift Editions) (original 1796; edition 2003)

by Matthew Gregory Lewis (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,770802,531 (3.81)2 / 412
`The Monk was so highly popular that it seemed to create an epoch in our literature', wrote Sir Walter Scott.Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, thento sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt.Inspired by German horror romanticism and the work of Ann Radcliffe, Lewis produced his masterpiece at the age of nineteen. It contains many typical Gothic elements - seduction in a monastery, lustful monks, evil Abbesses, bandits and beautiful heroines. But, as the Introduction to this newedition shows, Lewis also played with convention, ranging from gruesome realism to social comedy, and even parodied the genre in which he was writing.… (more)
Member:EsotericCOHMeet
Title:The Monk (Dover Thrift Editions)
Authors:Matthew Gregory Lewis (Author)
Info:Dover Publications (2003), 320 pages
Collections:Literary Cemetery Book Club
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work Information

The Monk by Matthew Lewis (1796)

  1. 50
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. 10
    The Italian by Ann Radcliffe (kara.shamy)
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English (73)  French (4)  Spanish (3)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Well that was absolute chaos. I'm very tempted to give it 4 stars but... can't quite. This is so over the top. Its a complete melodrama, but it also goes to places so much more extreme than i expected. It's is also a complete mess. The author tends to follow a character until he hits a wall, then backup and head off in another direction. A lot of it feels very pulpy, its clear that a lot of it was not planned out from the start, despite the annoying foreshadowing we get. It stops every so often to do a little poem or song and characters seem to switch personalities at the drop of a hat.
On the other hand it also has a remarkable amount of humanity. People act in very human ways. Their thoughts and motivations make sense a lot of the time... and then it breaks out into crazy supernatural stuff.
This review is as uneven as the novel ;) . Oh and then there's the weird view of superstition it keeps bringing up. At times it feels like it might be a joke but it makes such a big deal of people not being superstitious even while actual apparently supernatural stuff is happening. I mean at one point a demon laughs at how superstitious people are!
Also i couldn't get that episode of the Simpsons with Ned Flanders as the devil out of my head during those final dungeon scenes, i don't think that was the mood the author was going for :lol .
The ending gets even more uneven than the rest, there were several points were i expected it to end but it just kept going.. much like this review.
The most pulpy and extreme of the Gothic's i've read and really fun for long stretches. ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
Ambrosio displays traces of hubris and lust very early in the novel. His nature instructs him to exult himself above others and lust for the Virgin Mary, while his religious inclinations, or at least his awareness of his position within the church, command him to humility and chastity. Ambrosio begins to deviate from his holy conduct when he encounters Matilda, a character revealed at the end of the novel to be an emissary of Satan. All of these circumstances are consistent with the classic model of the morality tale, and, true to form, once Ambrosio is tempted into sin he enters into a tailspin of increasing desire, which leads him to transgression and culminates in the loss of his eternal salvation and his grisly murder at the hands of the devil.

This pattern of wicked actions leading to ill consequences is exactly what is expected in a morality tale and is reflected in other Gothic novels.

Despite its outcome, The Monk does have some very marked discrepancies from the normal morality tale setup used in gothic novels. In most morality tales, both vice and virtue are represented equally, but in Lewis's work, the powers of evil are disproportionately represented. Technically speaking, Ambrosio is surrounded by virtue in the sense that he is always conscious that what he is doing is wrong and, until the end of the novel, never believes that he cannot repent. However, this general sense of right and wrong is a feeble, inefficacious defence for Ambrosio when he is confronted by the physical presence and influence of demons. There are no corresponding angels who appear before Ambrosio to counter the influence of the devil and try to dissuade him from his path of destruction. As a result, his depravity is accelerated and magnified from the minor character foibles that are congenital to him to the egregious evils that possess him by the end of the novel. The only apparition that is potentially heaven-sent is that of Elvira's ghost. She comes back from the grave to caution her daughter, Antonia that “yet three days, and we shall meet again!” While the apparition may seem to be trying to warn Antonia of her impending death, the ghost's appearance causes Jacintha to fetch Ambrosio to dispel the spirit, allowing him to drug Antonia and take her under his power, a chain of events ultimately leading to the demise of Antonia, which the ghost foretold. As a result of the ghost's intrusion, Antonia is put directly into harm's way, an action much more apropos for a demonic presence rather than a heavenly one.
Harm to innocents

Lewis also deviates from what is typically expected from morality tales when he includes the sacrifice of innocent people in the latter chapters of the novel. As a result of Ambrosio's personal vices, both Elvira and Antonia are slain.

The Monk is one of many Gothic novels that criticises the Catholic Church and Catholic tradition. By the time of the Gothic novel, the English were, to some extent, institutionally anti-Catholic. Characters such as the wicked abbess, the unchaste nun, and the lascivious monk represent the naked anti-Catholicism projected by the Gothic. Lewis's condemnation of the Church is apparent throughout the novel in his characterisation of Catholic religious. Ambrosio and the Prioress represent all that is seen as wrong with the Catholic Church. The vow of celibacy, which many Protestant writers at the time condemned as unnatural, is presented as contributing significantly to Ambrosio's repressed sexuality, which in turn leads to the heinous acts he commits against Antonia.

Lewis also appears to mock Catholic superstition through use of iconoclasts repeatedly over the course of the novel, such as when Lorenzo moves a statue of the virgin St. Clare to reveal the chamber in which Agnes is being kept prisoner. This demystification of idols makes light of Catholic superstition in relation to statues and sacred objects. Lewis's treatment of the Catholic Church clearly shows that he harbours negative sentiments about the Church's activities. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Sep 2, 2021 |
This was one amazing book, the kind that are hard to really hard to put down. I first came across this book when I must have been about 14, after having read Devil's Elixirs, but for some reason I gave up on it after the first chapter. I really should have persevred because it really was right down my alley- I was thirsting for a book like this to read, with images of sin and redemption and villainous protagonists. Still, I loved reading this book even now. Big revelations in the last chapter that I didn't see coming, and that made every crime even more horrifying, I am talking about the incest . It really says a lot about my self image that I used to find these fallen men relatable. The climax part in the dungeon was really thrilling, and the last moments of Ambrosio very touching. Agnes' sufferings were very vividly painted. I even found de las Cisternas' story very interesting and a pleasure to read.
  Sebuktegin | May 25, 2021 |
Selling your soul to Satan is a tantalizing premise. So I expected the Monk to be: an exciting tale of fighting temptation from the greatest seducers; keeping your virtues from corruption and sin. With some hope, I expected this book would alleviate the disappointment I had with the The Pillars of the Earth ─ Ken Follett. But no, this is another disappointment; perhaps I'm not the target audience.
The biggest issue is the length. Long convoluted sections are common. The selling point i.e. the monk's corruption, only appear in the latter half.
I read through the prolix text and was rewarded with an interesting story. How the monk showed its wicked side was exciting; Satan didn't corrupt the monk, but merely revealed its nature.
However, I cannot say it was worth it. I shouldn't have to torture myself to get to the point of the book. But maybe this complains are unfair, the book is from 1796, and maybe as cared little for the subplot ─ especially the romance — I may have missed something. ( )
  Unmoved-Mover | Aug 15, 2020 |
Filled with melodrama, ridiculousness, and ghosts. I loved it!

It has a great moral that is still useful today-Be pious because you are a good person, not because you think you're better than everyone else. ( )
  LynnK. | Aug 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)

» 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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`The Monk was so highly popular that it seemed to create an epoch in our literature', wrote Sir Walter Scott.Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, thento sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt.Inspired by German horror romanticism and the work of Ann Radcliffe, Lewis produced his masterpiece at the age of nineteen. It contains many typical Gothic elements - seduction in a monastery, lustful monks, evil Abbesses, bandits and beautiful heroines. But, as the Introduction to this newedition shows, Lewis also played with convention, ranging from gruesome realism to social comedy, and even parodied the genre in which he was writing.

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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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