Book Review: The Monk

The Monk is an extremely Gothic novel and was extremely scandalous when it was first published too. It is about a monk Ambrosio, who is tempted by lustful desires before eventually giving in to his urges, and embarking on a path of further transgression and self-destruction.

I approached The Monk with caution; I don’t read books with vulgar language or sexual content, and so I was very wary of walking into a 18th century version of “Fifty Shades”. Thankfully, what was considered rather scandalous and explicit in 1796 is actually incredibly tame by today’s standards.

The Gothic concepts included on almost every page made this book incredibly enjoyable, such as violence, religion, taboo behaviour and the supernatural.

However, it was difficult to remember who all the main characters were, and what their roles were, because of their similarly spelt Spanish names. I also didn’t enjoy the lengthy passages of poetry Lewis included, because I prefer prose as a form.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book and was pleasantly surprised by this, given the “horror stories” I’d heard about it.

– Judith

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