The Monk (Penguin Classics)
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‘Few could sustain the glance of his eye, at once fiery and penetrating’
Savaged by critics for its supposed profanity and obscenity, and bought in large numbers by readers eager to see whether it lived up to its lurid reputation, The Monk became a succès de scandale when it was published in 1796 – not least because its author was a member of parliament and only twenty years old. It recounts the diabolical decline of Ambrosio, a Capuchin superior, who succumbs first to temptations offered by a young girl who has entered his monastery disguised as a boy, and continues his descent with increasingly depraved acts of sorcery, murder, incest and torture. Combining sensationalism with acute psychological insight, this masterpiece of Gothic fiction is a powerful exploration of how violent and erotic impulses can break through the barriers of social and moral restraint.
This edition is based on the first edition of 1796, which appeared before Lewis’s revisions to avoid charges of blasphemy. In his introduction, Christopher MacLachlan discusses the novel’s place within the Gothic genre, and its themes of sexual desire and the abuse of power.
enchanting girl. As it was, he considered her only as a fine statue: she obtained from him no tribute save cold admiration; and when she had passed him, he thought of her no more. "Who is she?" asked a bystander, in Lorenzo's hearing. "One whose beauty you must often have heard celebrated. Her name is Virginia de Villa Franca: she is a pensioner of St. Clare's convent, a relation of the prioress, and has been selected with justice as the ornament of the procession." The throne moved onwards.
Nay, I have even been neglected by most of my own relations, who out of envy affect to doubt the reality of my marriage. My allowance being discontinued at my father-in-law's death, I was reduced to the very brink of want. In this situation I was found by my sister, who, amongst all her foibles, possesses a warm, generous, and affectionate heart. She aided me with the little fortune which my father left her, persuaded me to visit Madrid, and has supported my child and myself since our quitting
the day. Remember the key, and that I expect you before twelve. Hark! I hear steps approaching! Leave me; I will pretend to sleep.” The friar obeyed, and left the cell. As he opened the door, Father Pablos made his appearance. “I come,” said the latter, “to inquire after the health of my young patient.” “Hush!” replied Ambrosio, laying his finger upon his lip. “Speak softly; I am just come from him: he has fallen into a profound slumber, which doubtless will be of service to him. Do not
and esteem, how tranquil and undisturbed would the hours roll away! Gracious God! To see her blue downcast eyes beam upon mine with timid fondness! To sit for days, for years, listening to that gentle voice! To acquire the right of obliging her, and hear the artless expressions of her gratitude! To watch the emotions of her spotless heart! To encourage each dawning virtue! To share in her joy when happy, to kiss away her tears when distressed, and to see her fly to my arms for comfort and
have heard his voice before he entered the monastery, because at that time he had no voice at all.” “Upon my word, Antonia, you argue very closely; your conclusions are infallible. I did not suspect you of being so able a logician.” “Ah! You are mocking me: but so much the better—it delights me to see you in spirits; besides, you seem tranquil and easy, and I hope that you will have no more convulsions. Oh, I was sure the abbot’s visit would do you good!” “It has indeed done me good, my child.