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This review is from: The Monk (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
I stumbled across this book via Amazon's financially lethal `recommendations'. As a 27 year old bloke I was slightly seduced by the sordid plot description, but also by the fact that I like to read things that are slightly off beat but known of (if that makes sense); the Walter Scott "epoch in our literature" quote did a lot to secure my purchase.
The book is pitched as a gothic horror by some but it comes nowhere near the likes of Dracula and Frankenstein in terms of its requirements for the reader to dispel a grasp on reality. Whilst there are elements of the `supernatural' they do not dominate the book and prove more allegorical to the characters motivations and feelings than anything else.
The atmosphere of the book I found very `close', almost claustrophobic at times; it is primarily set in Madrid and unsurprisingly is predominantly focused around a monastery. There is a broad cast of characters but I did feel they were, at times, distant from the reader; Lewis does not foster the character development of many classic authors and this did lead me to feel slightly detached from their respective endings and the conclusion to the various plots. In this vain it does take a while for the book to get going (I started to get really involved after 260 pages), but in this time the characters (barring what I said above) do develop and do become enticingly intertwined, leading you through to an exciting conclusion. I think my main gripe was that I wasn't quite sure where the 260 pages went, I've felt more attached to characters in other books after a couple of pages: this could however be as a result of the age of the book and perhaps a feeling that the characterisations are now a little dated.
This book is an education if nothing else and does present a good read: there's no denying you want to see how it all turns out at the end. It is easy to read given its age but the reader must, at times, adopt a `getting through it' attitude. It does build to a crescendo though which makes it all worthwhile.
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Initial post: 11 Jul 2011 15:55:27 BDT
Y. Martin says:
Having read this book myself, I think your review is a good one. Regarding the characters, I do understand entirely that you didn't feel attached to them as I felt the same way. However, I suspected that this was Matthew Lewis's intention. It struck me by the end of the book that, while Ambrosio was the most vilified, the author didn't much like any of his characters! Thus the story was an indictment of the human condition in general, not just the hypocrisy of religion. That is just my opinion, of course, but it's something to think about with regard to enjoying the story without the usually necessary empathy with characters :)
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