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The Monk (Dover Thrift Editions) [Paperback]

Matthew Gregory Lewis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Dec 2003 Dover Thrift Editions
A spellbinding Gothic novel, The Monk is Matthew Lewis' most famous work. First published in 1796 and set in a sinister Capuchin monastery in Madrid, this violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest focuses on a monk's struggle to maintain his monastic vows in the face of temptation and sexual obsession.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc. (1 Dec 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486432149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486432144
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.3 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 268,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Short climaxes, rather than long anticipation" 27 Feb 2008
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This review is of the Oxford World's Classics edition of Matthew Lewis's one-hit wonder of a novel, "The Monk", although Lewis did go on to be a very successful playwright. Written in 1794 when he was only nineteen years' old, Lewis may have predicted the storm of outrage that his novel would initiate, when he wrote almost halfway through it, "To enter the lists of literature is wilfully to expose yourself to the arrows of neglect, ridicule, envy, and disappointment. Whether you write well or ill, be assured that you will not escape from blame; ..."

After reading Ann Radcliffe's long and somewhat ponderous, but admittedly well-written and dreamy "Mysteries of Udolpho", "The Monk" brought a breath of fresh air into my experience of reading late-eighteenth century gothic novels. Lewis's short and brisk sentences aid quickness of thought and action, and there is often no time to sit and take in the air before the reader is taken off to the next scene in this saga of blasphemy, incest, rape, and murder. Or, as Emma McEvoy of London University puts it in her introduction, Lewis's book is "a work which enjoys short climaxes, rather than long anticipation." This is probably why he went on to write such popular plays.

But whereas Radcliffe in her work would ultimately find rational explanations for all the supposed causes of fear and suspicion, Lewis revels in the truth of the supernatural. The novel is replete with dark and sinister designs and dealing with spirits is the route for their fulfilment. This is tolerable for the reader because the tale is set within the unreal milieu of the gothic drama - and, of course, setting it in the context of deeply-catholic, old-world Spain also helps!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful.. in a very dark way! 25 Nov 2010
By Morgan
Of course, as everyone will know, many segments of this book are considered by some to be very unpleasant, and I admit that some segments of the book were quite disturbing. But do not let the controversy that shrouds this novel take away from it's brilliance! Firstly, the language of the book is extremely impressive. In the modern day, language is unfortunately overlooked, people preferring to keep it simple and to the point. And so reading this novel opened my eyes to a whole new world of vocabulary, and really showed me the wonders of the English language. As a student studying English at A level, it has benefited me greatly. The story itself, albeit starting rather slowly, ( as I read the rather confusing first chapter I started contemplating putting it down, but luckily decided to carry on )is absolute genius. The exploration of the relationships between characters, and the inner conflicts of certain characters ( particularly Ambrosio himself ) were a delight to read. The book seems to me an exploration of the conflict between good and evil, and how keeping a darker side suppressed for too long can end in disasters and tragedies. The greatest surprise for me, as someone expecting an entire novel of darkness and despair, was the pleasant epilogue to the lives of Agnes and Don Raymond. It seems that even after horrendous atrocities, and indescribable sufferings, there is still happiness that can be found, which I thought was beautiful. Of course, do not take this to mean that the book is full of smiles and happy endings! But if you are to read it for anything, read it for it's encapsulating story and Mathew Lewis' confident, amazing grasp of the English language. A true masterpiece!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sick and Disturbing...but Great! 3 April 2006
The synopsis for this book details how it was considered profane and obscene by the original late 18th century readers, how there was outrage at it, with most books from this period, we as modern day readers can't undrstand why the old readers would react in such a way. With Matthew Lewis' the monk it is entirely understandable.
The plot revolves largely around a few weeks in the life of Ambrosio, a monk in Madrid who has lived for the last thirty years without having commited even the slightest sin. Then, a woman disguised as a male monk infiltrates the monastry with Ambrosio in, proffesses her love for him, and evetually seduces him. From then on, Ambrosio gives into each sin and each temptation that presents itself to him, resulting in him starting to rape and murder, before eventually selling his soul to the devil.
The novel is written in a very graphic manner, and is very disturbing, not a book for the faint hearted, but no matter how sick and disturbing it gets, it remains a compelling read throughout, and you will find yourself wiling away hours at a time to progress through this rivetting read. I would reccommend it as one of the finest pieces of Gothic fiction ever written.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars just awesome 24 Jun 2006
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.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A little heavy on the flowery poetry but a good book.
Despite being written in the 18th century, this book if enjoyable. A little heavy on the flowery poetry but a good book.
Published 1 month ago by pixiestix
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book..
Published 2 months ago by sav
5.0 out of 5 stars Good delivery and good price
What a story!! Good delivery and good price.
Published 2 months ago by p.a.danville
5.0 out of 5 stars The Monk - Matthew Lewis
Fantastic romp. Sinister, exciting, romantic, adventurous, dark. Very dark, in places. I enjoyed this tremendously - it is written enchantingly, and is incredibly accessible... Read more
Published 4 months ago by RachelWalker
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK read
In today's age, this story is a bit trite and the speech in it very dated. However, if you read it remembering the year it was written it was the sort of book to cause a stir -... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Y
2.0 out of 5 stars a bit boring!!
I was a bit disappointed I found it quite hard to read and was a little bit dull and boring in places.
Published 11 months ago by Hannah
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping!
I have two chapters left to read and I can't wait to finish this book. It has been an absolute delight to read as it is so well written. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jenny
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly creepy
This book was recommended to me by my English Literature teacher whilst studying my A-Levels. I bought it for background reading of the gothic genre for my coursework and it was a... Read more
Published 14 months ago by SianNicole
2.0 out of 5 stars The Nasty Monk.
In terms of coming to understand the evolution of the gothic genre this is a must-read. While it is not the earliest gothic text, (which is typically identified as 'The Castle of... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Book
This book was purchased with a view of using it for an English exam. Only read a little of it.
Published 18 months ago by KarCup
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