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The Monk

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  20,299 ratings  ·  1,501 reviews
Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 456 pages
Published May 14th 1998 by Oxford University Press (first published 1796)
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3.80  · 
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 ·  20,299 ratings  ·  1,501 reviews


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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 a calculated 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
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-to-film, 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
Petal Eggs
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
...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my BookTube channel, From Beginning to Bookend.



Scandalous and scintillating, The Monk is a literary marvel.
Amalia Gavea
‘’I must have your soul; must have it mine, and mine forever.’’

This is one of the pioneers of Gothic Fiction, a work that defined one of the most fascinating, demanding and controversial genres. A novel written in the end of the 18th century that shocked the reading audience of its time with its last, darkness and violence. But what about the contemporary readers? Well, a few hundred years later and ‘’The Monk’’ still continues to attract us. My first experience with Lewis’ novel took place du
...more
Henry Avila
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Bryant
Sep 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, spooky-ookums
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
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kirstine
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  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!).

I’m
...more
Apatt
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
This was going to be part of my themed Halloween 2017 Reads, but I overestimated my reading speed (or lack thereof) and here we are in December. Just as well I suppose as The Monk: A Romance took me 48 days to read, mostly as an audiobook I was listening to in the bus on my two hours commutes to work. Ah, but those were vastly amusing bus journeys thanks to this outrageously fun, (unintentionally) silly book.

The Monk is often described as a gothic novel, which is not inaccurate but to my mind, i
...more
Dan Porter
Apr 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
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
Peter
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
One of the weirdest gothic tales I ever come across. In parts surreal. Highly recommended!
Minh  Lê
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cindy
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
...more
Amanda
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has long been on my TBR but I really didn't know that much about it. I have to say I was completely hooked from the beginning. Yes, the language is dated and there are parts that are a bit tedious. I think better editing would have done wonders. There were some really good twists at the end that while I thought they were great I would have liked more backstory on them. There were a couple of very disturbing scenes (one rape scene in particular was just haunting). This is a must read fo ...more
William2
Oct 21, 2011 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
...more
Rebecca
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
WhiskeyintheJar/Kyraryker
3.5 stars

Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power, Witches, and ghosts who rove at midnight hour.

I read this for the Classic Horror Halloween Bingo square.
It's said this was written by a 19/20 yr old and within 10 weeks, which if true, is amazing. The format of having a main character, Ambrosio (the monk), and then having secondary characters branch off from him and tangentially going astray and telling their stories, only to have them all come together in the end, was extremely compellin
...more
Bill
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the language of this one. It had a deliciously creepy old school vibe to it. Probably on the account that is was originally penned in 1796.

Truly a classic and holds up remarkably well.
Wreade1872
Well that was absolute chaos. I'm very tempted to give it 4 stars but... can't quite. This is so over the top. Its a complete melodrama, but it also goes to places so much more extreme than i expected. It's is also a complete mess. The author tends to follow a character until he hits a wall, then backup and head off in another direction. A lot of it feels very pulpy, its clear that a lot of it was not planned out from the start, despite the annoying foreshadowing we get. It stops every so often ...more
Shala Howell
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.
Michele
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The granddaddy of all gothic novels. Hugely over the top but oh, such fun -- bandits and dungeons and ghosts, impoverished beauties and degenerate monks and wicked nuns, mysterious orphans and ancient castles and the summoning of demons, lost loves and lost souls and lost virtue, this book has it all. I think my favorite bits were Matilda's logical arguments in favor of sin - suspiciously clever yet quite convincing :)
Alex
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 plot...it's just what I needed. The only 18th-century book that I had more fun with was Voltaire's Candide.
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I somehow managed to get through this much of my life, including a college class in gothic literature; without ever reading this book. How? It was great!
Published in 1796 and written by a 19-year-old, it was a massive, bestselling success in its day - and it really still holds up as a fun, entertaining read.

This particular edition had the most *awful* introduction EVER, though. (I will not dignify the author of said intro by even mentioning his name, which I had never heard before anyway.) It wa
...more
Linda
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
...more
Susan
4.5 stars for this book

This book is shocking, especially considering the period it was written (1776). This is a gothic book through and though filled with sex, magic, ghostly violence!

A perfect tale for the month of October!


Update 05/05/018
I’m changing my rating to 5 stars. This book is just unbelievable shocking and fascinating.
Latasha
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW! this book is fantastic, shocking and scandalous! it continued to go to dark places and kept surprising me over & over. I highly recommend this book. read it. it's free.
Fede
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mmh.

I'm not very keen on gothic novels, but in this case the premises were quite intriguing: a scandalous subject, some allegedly blasphemeous and sexually charged contents, the author's modern writing style... all this made me look favourably on this book and leave my usual prejudice aside for once.
Something I usually regret.
However, Lewis was only twenty years old when he wrote "The Monk", so I'll try to be as lenient as possible in pointing out the main flaws of his most famous novel.

Firs
...more
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

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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
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Stanka
Apr 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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167 followers
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
“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.” 211 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.” 71 likes
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