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The Monk Paperback – Apr 9 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; New edition edition (April 9 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375759166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375759161
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 286 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,809,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“The whole work is distinguished by the variety and impressiveness of its incidents; and the author every-where discovers an imagination rich, powerful, and fervid.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

From the Back Cover

“The whole work is distinguished by the variety and impressiveness of its incidents; and the author every-where discovers an imagination rich, powerful, and fervid.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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First Sentence
SCARCELY had the abbey-bell tolled for five minutes, and already was the church of the Capuchins thronged with auditors. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 25 2006
Format: Paperback
The Monk is perhaps the most significant and certainly the most controversial of the Gothic novels of the late 18th century. Amazingly, its author, nineteen-year-old Matthew Lewis, wrote the novel in a period of only six weeks. Although inspired by the work of Ann Radcliffe (among other Gothic writers), Lewis goes far beyond the sensibilities of his predecessors and does not choose to explain away the supernatural events fuelling this inflammatory novel. The Monk is a tale of human evil in its most vile form; the unspeakable acts described in these pages are committed by the supposedly most devout individuals in society. The Catholic Church was incensed with the novel's publication, and it is actually quite remarkable that The Monk was published at all and that its author faced nothing more dire than censorship and indignant protest as a consequence of it.

Ambrosio is the most celebrated, revered monk in Madrid (in the era of the infamous Spanish Inquisition) - his sermons attract crowds far too large to gain admittance to the sanctuary, and everyone holds him up as a veritable saint walking the earth. His fall from grace is precipitous indeed. Secretly, Ambrosio is vain and proud, blissfully assured of his own near-perfection. At the first temptation of lust, however, this holy man reveals himself to be the ultimate hypocrite, giving in rather easily to the type of desire he rails against each Sunday. After learning that his friend Rosario is in fact a lovely woman in disguise named Matilda, he revels in the love she declares for him and quickly becomes her secret lover. Quickly and ever more thoroughly consumed by his new-found passion and carnal lasciviousness, he grows tired of the ever-willing Matilda and turns his perverted eye toward the sweet and wholly innocent young Antonia.
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By John Egbe on March 12 2005
Format: Hardcover
Written by Matthew Lewis during a short period of ten short weeks when he was just nineteen, "The Monk" proved to be a controversial novel at the time that it was written. Faith, deception, loyalty, sorcery, murder, Satanism, incest, rape, ghosts, and the inquisition gave the novel the popularity it has retained until today. Even though its plot made the novel controversial when it was published in 1796 to the point where it as held to be blasphemous and resulted to censorship, Lewis nevertheless gained in popularity.
The story is basically about Ambrosio, who as an enfant was found at the doors of the abbey, stirring talks that he was a divine-sent child. He grew up to become an ostensibly pious and deeply revered Abbot of the Capuchin monastery in Madrid, a fit in holiness that aroused the resentment of the devil who decides to plot his fall. The devil plotted the fall through the working of a young female who disguised and became a novice under the tutelage of Ambrioso, the immaculate monk. Ambrioso's fall is plotted through out the later stages of the novel as his fight with the deep passions of his body, the machinations of the devil and his attempts at redemption. Anti-Catholic in nature, this Gothic classic is perhaps the best in its genre. I am certain the author enjoyed every moment while he was writing it because the story flowed all the way through to the end. A recommended classic.
Also recommended: THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES, THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, THE UNION MOUJIK
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Format: Hardcover
Even after two centuries, "The Monk" can still entertain readers while encouraging them to think about such weighty subjects as the coercisive power of religious hypocrisy.
Set in Madrid during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the book's main story arc is the rise and fall of Ambrosio, a Capuchin friar who is initially regarded by everyone as a living saint. Lauded for his brilliant oratory skills and personal beauty, Ambrosio is courted by the richest women in the city to be their personal Confessor. As Ambrosio's fame increases, so does his vanity, and it is through this Deadly Sin that he enters into later acts of violence and depravity.
Lewis does a fine job of creating archetypal characters that are still used in genre fiction today. There is the Fallen Hero who becomes the Villian (Ambrosio), the Temptress (Rosario/Matilda), the Good Knights (Lorenzo and Don Raymond), and two Damsels in Distress (Agnes and Antonia). The author also provides a subordinate Villian (the Prioress of the Convent of St. Clare), who is in some ways more evil than Ambrosio.
For leavening in this very dark narrative, Lewis gives readers a trio of humorous characters: Leonella, Antonia's lusty aunt and chaperone; Flora, the very chatty chambermaid in Antonia's service; and Jacintha, the superstitious neighbor who swears that she sees ghosts everywhere.
The characterizations of Ambrosio and the Prioress are great examples of how power (whether it's spiritual or temporal) can corrupt. Neither character feels answerable to anyone. Even God isn't really present (although his Other Half puts in an appearance!) Lewis poses questions on personal accountability that are certainly relevant today, while deftly mixing in good character interaction and biting social commentary.
Highly recommended.
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