Read Le Moine by Matthew Lewis Free Online
Book Title: Le Moine|
The author of the book: Matthew Lewis
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 33.64 MB
Date of issue: July 13th 2011
ISBN 13: 9782330001056
Read full description of the books Le Moine: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 young Matthew Lewis liked Walpole and loved Radcliff, but believed that they both fell short of his own darker, revolutionary vision, particularly in regard to the supernatural, providence, and fate. For Lewis, the supernatural is neither an obvious intrusion of the symbolic into the actual, a providential and prophetic sign (Walpole) nor a mere objective correlative for the heroine's emotional state which--once it has served its sentimental purpose--can be explained away and summarily discarded (Radcliff). No, the supernatural for Lewis is an elusive, complex phenomenon, a dangerous disruption of the ordinary, which may be mocked by the rationalist or embraced by the gullible, which may at times be a mere legend (or a stratagem exploiting a legend), but could just as easily turn out to be real. And if real, it will be something horribly real--relentless and insistent at best, malevolent and destructive at worst, and only tangentially connected to providence.
It is in his radical criticism of providence itself that Lewis differs most markedly from his influences. For Mrs. Radcliff (and Walpole, to a lesser extent) Providence is a benevolent but mischievous uncle who enjoys scaring the children before he rewards them with treats. But for Lewis, Providence is a capricious, unreliable overseer, capable of allowing the spotless innocent to be ravished and destroyed by the wicked. The fact that the wicked one later meets with a terrifying supernatural destruction never quite makes up for the great horror or the grave injustice of the initial violation.
In addition, Lewis brings the dark side of Shakespeare plus the spirit of early German Romanticism and the recent French Revolution into the already familiar world of sentimental dialogue, medieval abbeys and Salvator Rosa landscapes, giving the gothic world a wider breadth and a greater force.
(A final note: all lovers of Poe should read this novel. Just as "The Fall of the House of Usher" was inspired by "Otranto," so "The Pit and the Pendulum" was inspired by "The Monk." In both cases Poe surpasses his influences, but the comparisons are extremely interesting.)
Read information about the authorMatthew 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 to Christ Church, Oxford where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1769 and his master’s in 1772. That same year, he was appointed as the Chief Clerk in the War Office. The following year, Lewis married Frances Maria Sewell, a young woman who was very popular at court. She was the third daughter born to Sir Thomas Sewell and was one of eight children born in his first marriage. Her family, like Lewis’, had connections with Jamaica. As a child, she spent her time in Ottershaw. In December 1775, in addition to his post as the Chief Clerk in the War Office, Lewis became the Deputy-Secretary at War. With one exception, he was the first to hold both positions at that same time (and earning both incomes). Lewis owned considerable property in Jamaica, within four miles of Savanna-la-Mer, or Savanna-la-Mar, which was hit by a devastating earthquake and hurricane in 1779. His son would later inherit this property.
In addition to Matthew Gregory Lewis, Matthew and Frances had three other children: Maria, Barrington, and Sophia Elizabeth. On 23 July 1781, when Matthew was six and his youngest sister was one and a half years old, Frances left her husband, taking the music master, Samuel Harrison, as her lover. During their estrangement, Frances lived under a different name, Langley, in order to hide her location from her husband. He still, however, knew her whereabouts. On 3 July 1782, Frances gave birth to a child. That same day, hearing of the birth, her estranged husband returned. Afterwards, he began to arrange a legal separation from his wife. After formally accusing his wife of adultery through the Consistory Court of the Bishop of London on 27 February 1783, he petitioned the House of Lords for permission to bring about a bill of divorce. However, as these bills were rarely granted, it was rejected when brought to voting. Consequently, Matthew and Frances remained married until his death in 1812. Frances, though withdrawing from society and temporarily moving to France, was always supported financially by her husband and then later, her son. She later returned to London and then finally finished her days at Leatherhead, rejoining society and even becoming a lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Wales. Frances and her son remained quite close, with her taking on the responsibility of helping him with his literary career. She even became a published author, much to her son’s dislike.
Matthew Gregory Lewis began his education at a preparatory school under Reverend Dr. John Fountain, Dean of York at Maryleborne Seminary, a friend of both the Lewis and Sewell families. Here, Lewis learned Latin, Greek, French, writing, arithmetic, drawing, dancing, and fencing. Throughout the school day, he and his classmates were only permitted to converse in French. Like many of his classmates, Lewis used the Maryleborne Seminary as a stepping stone, proceeding from there to the Westminster School, like his father, at age eight. Here, he acted in the Town Boys’ Play as Falconbridge in King John and then My Lord Duke in High Life Below Stairs. Later, again like his father, he began studying at Christ Church, Oxford on 27 April 1790 at the age of fifteen. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1794. He later earned a master's degree from the same school in 1797.
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