Sunday, November 4, 2012

55. The Monk

The Monk
M.G. Lewis
Around 450 pages

This is another one that I slowly made my way through.  At the beginning, I was highly interested.  Sure, it started almost immediately with the cliche of a woman with a "figure to rival Aphrodite" and a "snowy breast" but hey, we are still in the 1700s here people.  Then, at around 40 pages in Antonia, the main female protagonist, decides to hold her tongue.  Lewis then proceeds to say "As this is the only instance known of a Woman's ever having done so, it was judged worthy to be recorded here."  Asshole.

Still, you kind of have to be immune to sexism if you want to read old books (unless you are reading anything from my boy Billy Shakes!).  So, I continued trucking through.

This novel is about a monk who slowly becomes evil and corrupted (i.e. killing and raping family members).  In fact, this novel really doesn't get interesting until he decides to act on these impulses and then it is just really disturbing.

I simply didn't like it.  First of all, the characters made absolutely no sense to me.  In one scene, a gypsy comes up to Antonia and tells her she is going to die.  Then, Lewis says less than twenty minutes later Antonia forgot about the episode as if it never occurred. Okay, even if you don't believe in psychics, no one just forgets that someone says they are going to die soon.  Also, I am pretty sure we were supposed to sympathize with Ambrosio, the monk, when really he is just a monster and you can't really sympathize with any of his decisions.  If I gave an example I would be spoiling the plot, so I will hold my tongue on that point (second time in history where a woman has done so).

I picked this book to read as my Halloween book but it is not scary in the least, it is just annoying and boring.  Skip it.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

If you read the Wikipedia article, there is a whole section on the anti feminist qualities of the novel.  Click here.

Heavily influenced The Hunchback of Notre Dame because this is the first time a monk was portrayed as evil.

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