Review: The Monk; a romance by Matthew Gregory Lewis
Title: The Monk: A Romance
Author: Matthew Gregory Lewis
Genre: Gothic Horror / Religion
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: 29 October 1998
Format: eBook / Paperback
Buy: Amazon UK Amazon US
Matthew Lewis’s Gothic masterpiece, depicting a holy man slowly becoming entangled in a web of sin, The Monk is edited with an introduction by Christopher MacLachlan in Penguin Classics.
Savaged by critics for its blasphemy and obscenity, particularly since the author was a Member of Parliament, The Monk soon attracted thousands of readers keen to see if this Gothic novel lived up to its lurid reputation. With acute psychological insight, Lewis shows the diabolical decline of Ambrosio, a worthy superior of the Capuchins of Madrid who is tempted by Matilda, a young girl who has entered his monastery disguised as a boy. Descending into a hell of his own creation, Ambrosio is driven to magic and murder in an attempt to conceal his crimes from the Inquisition. The Monk was greatly admired by the Marquis de Sade, who saw it as a response to the upheavals of the French Revolution, yet it also reveals something more universal: the way violent and erotic impulses lurking within us all can break through every barrier of social restraint.
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Not a book for the God fearing or light hearted. The story of The Monk is not quite the romance the title depicts but one of torture, debauchery, murder, and heinous crimes which even today would turn stomachs. A book so well written, with the Monk’s tortured soul so well depicted I found him a fascinating character to follow and interpret while he tried to make his way in the world knowing he should be following God and fulfilling his monkly duties whilst being haunted by demons and lust which made him turn his back and give in to the most base of his instincts.
This would be quite the talked about book should it have been released now, for someone to have released it so many years ago just makes it one of the great gothics of our time.