Title: The Monk: A Romance
Author: Matthew G. Lewis
Genre: Gothic / Classic
Pages: 420
Rating: 3 of 5

Last year I read Melmoth the Wanderer and reviewed it as “The most Gothic book to ever Gothic.” I was wrong; I think that “honor” goes to The Monk. Almost every single Gothic trope imaginable appears in this book. It contains at least one of each of the following ingredients:

  • An Angry mob
  • A Band of outlaws
  • Corrupt Clergy
  • A Dungeon
  • Excessive Emotions resulting in illness
  • A Faustian bargain
  • A Ghost
  • A Haunted castle
  • An Illegitimate child
  • Judgment (by the Spanish Inquisition…but who expected that?)
  • Killing
  • Lust, Lasciviousness, Lechery (and any other words you can use to describe sexual appetite without getting into too much trouble with your “proper” English audience)
  • Melancholy (used at least once every 5 pages)
  • Naive heroine
  • An Opposed marriage
  • A Potion that makes everyone think you’re dead
  • – nothing relevant starts with Q (unless you count the author’s homosexuality, but I’m not sure if straight people are allowed to use that word without it being considered a slur…)
  • A Rapist/seducer
  • A Secret passage
  • Tomb
  • Unknown parentage
  • A Vision (but no Vampires…I think that’s the only one he missed)
  • The Wandering Jew
  • XYZ – Yeah, I give up, but you get the idea.

So, whip all of that together with melodramatic language, occasional poetry, and a hatred of monasticism and the product just might be the most Gothic novel ever. It was mostly eyeroll-inducing or unintentionally amusing at the melodramatic-ness of it all (and one of the big “surprises” at the end was easily guessable from the first chapter or two).  However, there were occasional truly disturbing parts, and the author made some good (if highly exaggerated) points about potential spiritual dangers, abuses, and weaknesses of Roman Catholic monasticism. Overall, if you’re into classic Gothic literature, you have to read this…if not, you might want to give it a miss.

Also, I’m using this for the “Gothic or Horror Classic” category over at the Back to the Classics Challenge. And that finishes out all 12 categories!

One thought on “So Very Gothic

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