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The Monk

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,104 Ratings  ·  1,000 Reviews
Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, this is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions tempts its main character into breaking his vows.
Paperback, 386 pages
Published October 29th 1998 by Penguin Classics (first published 1796)
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Petra X
Jun 30, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it
This is such a great fun book to read. It's really not like anything else at all, it's so extreme in every way. It was written in the era of the great classics, but this one is never going to be taught in schools.

The book out-Gothics all the Gothic novels you ever read, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey isn't even related to the raw perversion and criminality of this madcap horror ride through the forbidden where taboos fall one by one as the The Monk, unable to live up to his vows gives in to ever
Bill  Kerwin

When I was younger, I avoided this book because the literary snob in me--a much more insistent voice back then than now--had decided, on the basis of ”informed opinion,” that “The Monk” was merely an exercise in sensationalism, a device for producing horrific thrills through the deliberate, exploitative use of cheap effects and anti-Catholic stereotypes.

Now that I have read it, I see that the literary snob in me had a point. “The Monk” is all of these things. But it is also more.

I think the you
Jeffrey Keeten
May 04, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
”Lucifer stood before him a second time. He borrowed the Seraph’s form to deceive Ambrosio. He appeared in all that ugliness, which since his fall from heaven had been his portion: His blasted limbs still bore marks of the Almighty’s thunder: A swarthy darkness spread itself over his gigantic form: His hands and feet were armed with long Talons: Fury glared in his eyes, which might have struck the bravest heart with terror: Over his huge shoulders waved two enormous sable wings; and his hair was ...more
Paul Bryant
Jul 04, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: spooky-ookums, novels
Calling all Gothic Novel fans : you have to read The Monk - this is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of Gothic novels which will unjade the most jaded. Here you will find much fun to be had with nuns, priests with uncontrollable underwear, more nuns, pregnant nuns, nuns with minimal clothing, nuns giving birth in frankly unsanitory conditions attended only by untrained inappropriate monks, heaving bosoms, unspeakable acts, souls in the process of being damned for all eternity, mostly ghostly ectoplas ...more
Henry Avila
Nov 14, 2015 Henry Avila rated it really liked it
Ambrosio, the abbot, is the perfect monk, head of an abbey in Madrid, and the idol of the city, a young, handsome, charismatic man, with a spellbinding voice, that thrills the congregation at his church. All the people flock to it, to hear his sermons, five minutes after the bells ring, the church is overflowing, and the noble families are there, silently the assembly listens, a living saint, they witness, the proud people are ecstatic, in this modern age (the 1700's), God has sent them Ambrosio ...more
Bookworm Sean
Does character redemption exist in Lewis’s world? No, I think not. The vile protagonist degrades himself on every level. Here’s a list to show how messed up he is:

1. He lusts after his sister.
2. He becomes obsessed.
3. He tries to rape his sister.
4. He goes insane.
5. He tries to kill his sister.
6. He yields his soul to Satan.
7. The end

He's just a little bit too creepy; he’s a complete sex pest with stalker like tendencies.


This is incredibly Gothic, more so than most Gothic classics. But, is t
Maria Thomarey
May 06, 2016 Maria Thomarey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readathon2016
Πριν καμία βδομάδα έγραψα μια λίγο κολοβή κριτική για τα" ανεμοδαρμένα ύψη ". Εκεί έγραψα για το ρομαντισμό . Αν τα"ύψη" είναι εξαιρετικο δείγμα του ύστερου ρομαντισμού , ο " καλόγερος " είναι του ρομαντισμού στο ξεκίνημα του . Γοτθική ατμόσφαιρα , αγνός τρόμος , σκτεινοι άνθρωποι κακόβουλα πνεύματα , μοχθηρή εκκλησία , ιππότες μια εξωτική χωρα(η Ισπανία , παντα αυτή απο την εποχή του Σαιξπιρ αν οχι παλαιότερα , παντα αυτή ηταν ο ορισμός του εξωτικού , του παράξενου , του απειλητικά αγνώστου και ...more
Ο Καλόγερος του Matthew Gregory Lewis. Στο μοτίβο των γοτθικών μυθιστορημάτων με ατμοσφαιρική και νοσηρή πλοκή, πύργοι με φαντάσματα, μοναστήρια εμποτισμένα στο κακό, όνειρα και αρρωστημένες φαντασιώσεις, ωμές περιγραφές της λαγνείας και των δολοφονιών, με την ηθική να αντιτίθεται στην διαφθορά, η αιώνια μάχη του καλού εναντίον του κακού, ο ρομαντισμός του αγνού έρωτα εναντίον της αγριότητας της ερωτικής παράκρουσης, η επικράτηση του φωτός στο τέλος, με την δίκαιη τιμωρία του καλόγερου, ευτυχώς ...more
Apr 07, 2016 Kirstine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“What? live to plunge myself in infamy? to become an agent of hell? to work the destruction in both you and myself?”

Alright, this book is hilarious.

However, there are a few spoilers in this review. If you think you’ll read The Monk someday (and you should, seriously), maybe come back to this another time. Or don’t, who knows, maybe it won’t be so bad? Maybe this is the best, most spoiler free review you’ll ever read in your life? (see, I’m tempting you, because it’s the theme of the book!).

Христо Блажев
Монахът може да има вечността, но избира да има всичко сега:

След “Дракула” на Брам Стокър, която от миналата година се радва на постоянен читателски интерес (а около Хелоуин имаше и страхотен пик), видях колко смисъл има да се правят класически романи в достойно оформление – с въвеждащи предговори, с подробни бележки и разяснения. Тази възможност до голяма степен се дължи, че се “намерихме” със Слави Ганев, истински ерудит в областта на готическата литера
Dan Porter
I think Wilkie Collins has spoiled me when it comes to this type of Victorian/Gothic/Thriller because it's so hard to match his writing and storytelling skills. That being said, I'll add that The Monk was a fun read. While it's clearly an attack on organized religion - the Catholic church in particular - a close reading makes it also clear that Lewis found a significant difference between organized religion and a personal relationship with a Supreme Being. While he provides several interesting t ...more
O Father Ambrosio, stop Monking around!

This book was quite a surprise. Yes, there are all sorts of hypocritical Monk-y debauchery and lustful, euphemism-filled scenes. But there are also two romantic subplots that filled with action, swashbuckling heroes, damsels in distress and deceit. All three stories end up intertwining in unexpected ways.

Did more people in olden times have prosopagnosia, or what? Why was it so damn easy to disguise yourself?

I had all sorts of naughty fun reading even more f
Evripidis Gous.
Mar 30, 2016 Evripidis Gous. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Στα τέλη του 18ου αιώνα, κάποιος 19χρονος έγραψε ένα μακροσκελές μαγικό ξόρκι με σκοπό να καθηλώσει και να ακινητοποιήσει τον οποιοδήποτε αναγνώστη.

Ο 19χρονος είναι ο Matthew Lewis και το μακροσκελές μαγικό ξόρκι που ακινητοποιεί και κρατάει το βλέμμα καρφωμένο στις σελίδες του είναι φυσικά ο Καλόγερος!

Ένα αριστουργηματικό γοτθικό μυθιστόρημα γεμάτο ανατριχιαστικές σκηνές όπου η πραγματικότητα και οι δεισιδαιμονίες γίνονται ένα, σκοτεινά μοναστήρια όπου το πάθος και η φιληδονία έχουν ηγετικό ρό
Aug 01, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Now that I've finished this fabulous piece, I remember I read it several years ago. However, this time around I enjoyed it so much more. Be it because of age, wisdom, life knocking me around a bit more, don't know the reason why only that I absolutely couldn't shut up talking about it with my husband all night last night.

For being only 19 when he wrote it and during the particular time period, he was very astute at the cultural swing that was occuring at the time. There is even a note of awarene
Shala Howell
Jul 21, 2008 Shala Howell rated it it was ok
Rendered nearly senseless by the impact of reading words so breathlessly written, she nonetheless persisted in reviewing a book whose attractions she could not have resisted, had her mind not been steeled by the remembrance of a 1000 other works more artfully written.

If you like that sort of writing, go read this book. It's got lots and lots of pages of it.
Oct 31, 2011 William1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, uk, 18-ce
This novel is all about Christian, specifically Catholic, sexual hysteria. Sex seems to determine everyone's motivation in the first volume. This makes sense when you consider that it was written by a nineteen year old for whom these obsessions were no doubt a daily occurence. Fortunately for us, he has managed to sublimate them into the form of a novel. (Which puts me in mind of E.M. Forster, who, when touched on the ass by an admirer at a tender age, promptly went home and wrote Maurice.)

A du
Cassandra Lê
OMGGGGGGG.... I totally CANNOT believe that the author of this book was 19 YEARS OLD when he wrote this, and he wrote it under 10 WEEKS . This is a masterpiece!! A 18TH CENTURY GOTHIC GODDAMN MASTERPIECE!!! Seriously high school kids would have loved the hell out of this and seek to read more classics were they not confined to snoring tomes like... idk, A scarlet letter? (Sorry, Hawthorne I have never gotten used to you ). "The Monk" retells the stories of a monk who abandons his virtues to be ...more
Apr 03, 2008 Stanka rated it liked it
If you are curious to find out in what circumstances a young novice at the convent cries out: "Father, I am a woman!" and then puts a sharp knife to her "beauteous orb," which -- by the way -- is gleaming in the moonlight, and threatens to kill herself, then read this novel (it's like Don Quixote, composed of many stories). The strangest book: if you think your 21st century has taught you all there is to know about sensual sexual unfulfilled yet on the brink, think again! Here is a story of abso ...more
Петър Панчев
От благочестието до изкушението
(Цялото ревю е тук:

Рядко ми се случва да чета книги на повече от век, а „Монахът“ („Deja Book“, 2016, с превод на Слави Ганев и Радостина Горанова) е написана преди повече от два. Ясно е, че това не е исторически роман, а самата История от плът и кръв, така да се каже – един литературен пра-прадядо на куп жанрове и вестител на цяла плеяда класически произведения, които все още се четат с наслаждение и любопитство от съврем
This must be one of the most difficult novels to grade, so far. I have no idea how many stars to give it, four or five. It's so strange and unique that I'm incapable of comparing it to any other literature. I know it inspired Ann Radcliffe's The Italian, but I can't see many significant similarities between the two. The story is so dark, I can't think of another novel in the same way. Most gothic fiction fade in comparison.

The main story is about a man's fall from the highest of grace and rank t
Jul 10, 2011 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
In the middle of The Monk: A Romance is hidden this interesting comment...
"An author, whether good or bad, or between both, is an animal whom everybody is privileged to attack; For though all are not able to write books, all conceive themselves able to judge them."


Matthew Lewis, even at the age of 19 when he wrote this classic Gothic romance in 1796, was able to accurately predict the reaction to his first novel. It was both praised and reviled by the critics. It was certainly controversial
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.


The first idea of this Romance was suggested by the story of the Santon Barsisa, related in The Guardian.—The Bleeding Nun is a tradition still credited in many parts of Germany; and I have been told that the ruins of the Castle of Lauenstein, which She is supposed to haunt, may yet be seen upon the borders of Thuringia.—The Water-King, from the third to the twelfth stanza, is the fragment of an original Danish Ballad—And Belerma and Dura
Sep 30, 2011 Sean rated it liked it
I would give this book five stars for its brilliant wordcrafting. However, there were many parts of this book that were difficult to swollow and were, in fact, pretty shocking. The two parallel plots were a bit confusing and switch abruptly at some spots. The Monk is a well written piece of literature but this is not for the faint of heart.
Written at the end of the 18th century, in full Romantic period, by an author who wasn’t yet 20, The Monk is a surprisingly modern novel, that synthetizes some Gothic characteristics while introducing some new and disturbing (for his contemporaries) ideas.
And, as usual, it’s through these so criticized new ideas that the novel gained its celebrity and its place of reference among Gothic works, considering that even its most famous critic, Coleridge, couldn’t go past the prejudices of his time w
Finally, some fun in the Enlightenment. The Monk is a blast, a page-turner, chock full of insane plot twists and sinning.

It can't be accused of being terribly well-written, so you know that old debate between eloquence and plot? If you tip heavily toward eloquence, you might not like this as much.

But for me, clawing my way out of a pit of Oh-So-Literary books starved for's just what I needed. The only 18th-century book that I had more fun with was Voltaire's Candide.
Aug 10, 2015 Kenchiin rated it it was amazing
One word: Outrageous.
Aug 24, 2015 Wendy rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
Lei este libro por mi club de lectura bajo el género de "terror". Primeramente, NO es terror, tal vez lo fuera hace 100 años, pero hoy no.

Es una novela gótica escrita hace 200 años y su autor tenía apenas 19 años. Eso ya para mi es sorprendente porque no ha envejecido tanto. Es bastante fluida y entretenida para ser una historia tan antigua. Ayuda que trata un tema universal: la religión, fanatismo, prejuicios y supersticiones, que no creo que pasen de moda.Me sorprendió la crítica tan fuerte a
Sep 06, 2011 Terence rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Steve Semon
Antonin Artaud’s The Monk is to the original like the fossilized skeleton of Tyrannosaurus Rex is to the living, breathing, hunting animal that lived 65+ million years ago. If it’s the only source of information you have you can learn a great deal but you’ll still not understand the ecosystem the creature lived in – its fellow predators, its prey, the flora, the microbes and insects that worked together to create the environment. In the same way, this book is the original novel’s skeleton – the ...more
Oct 29, 2009 Lori rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Any book that takes an idolized monk and a handful of nuns, and turns them into devious, deceptive, evil-doing characters gets a hug and kiss from me!

Sprinkle in a young female novice who dabbles in the dark arts, some good ole rape and incest, the Grand Inquisition, and appearances by a few ghosts and yes, even the Devil... and you have yourself one helluva storyline!

Based on plot and development alone, the book would warrent 5 stars. Three seemingly separate stories slowly intertwine to create
This book honestly came as quite a surprise to me. Lewis was 19 when he wrote this, and the gothic genre was still fairly young. It's mostly uncharted territory in the hands of a writer who hasn't done much of his own exploration. The shock came when I realized that actually, this was pretty good stuff. At the time, it was a very shocking novel, and with modern eyes... Well, he's still being pretty bold. Make the scenes just a little more explicit, and it would be every bit as shocking now. Ther ...more
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Literary Exploration: First Impressions *No Spoilers* 7 33 Jul 16, 2014 04:11PM  
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Gothic Literature: The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis 38 89 Oct 05, 2013 09:32AM  
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Books Stephen Kin...: * 14 The Monk Overall Impression (SPOILER ALERT) 2 20 Jun 05, 2012 04:18PM  
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Matthew Gregory Lewis was an English novelist and dramatist, often referred to as "Monk" Lewis, because of the success of his classic Gothic novel, The Monk.

Matthew Gregory Lewis was the firstborn child of Matthew and Frances Maria Sewell Lewis. His father, Matthew Lewis was the son of William Lewis and Jane Gregory. He was born in Jamaica in 1750. He attended Westminster School before proceeding
More about Matthew Gregory Lewis...

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“Man was born for society. However little He may be attached to the World, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to be wholly forgotten by it. Disgusted at the guilt or absurdity of Mankind, the Misanthrope flies from it: He resolves to become an Hermit, and buries himself in the Cavern of some gloomy Rock. While Hate inflames his bosom, possibly He may feel contented with his situation: But when his passions begin to cool; when Time has mellowed his sorrows, and healed those wounds which He bore with him to his solitude, think you that Content becomes his Companion? Ah! no, Rosario. No longer sustained by the violence of his passions, He feels all the monotony of his way of living, and his heart becomes the prey of Ennui and weariness. He looks round, and finds himself alone in the Universe: The love of society revives in his bosom, and He pants to return to that world which He has abandoned. Nature loses all her charms in his eyes: No one is near him to point out her beauties, or share in his admiration of her excellence and variety. Propped upon the fragment of some Rock, He gazes upon the tumbling waterfall with a vacant eye, He views without emotion the glory of the setting Sun. Slowly He returns to his Cell at Evening, for no one there is anxious for his arrival; He has no comfort in his solitary unsavoury meal: He throws himself upon his couch of Moss despondent and dissatisfied, and wakes only to pass a day as joyless, as monotonous as the former.” 133 likes
“An author, whether good or bad, or between both, is an animal whom every body is privileged to attack: for though all are not able to write books, all conceive themselves able to judge them.” 59 likes
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