Day 213: The Monk

I don’t usually have problems with the language of the classics or with appreciating a book that is long out of its time, but I had one with The Monk. Although it is considered a classic gothic novel, published in the height of their popularity in 1796, I found it boring. I imagine that for its day it was very shocking.

Ambrosio is a monk at a Capuchin monastery in Madrid. Although he is considered to be almost a saint, he is full of vanity and lust. He becomes sexually obsessed with a woman who is disguised as a boy in the monastery, and succumbs to temptation. Then his eye lights on a pious virgin. Gradually, he becomes more and more debauched until he is completely given up to depravity.

What irritates me is the narrative, which is repeatedly interrupted by long and boring digressions, apparently to further the gothic flavor. An example is the story of the brave Lorenzo, who battles with bandits in the forests of Germany. The novel is also rabidly anti-Catholic, as almost all the representatives of the church are scheming, power-seeking, or just plain evil. Although the general over-the-top quality of the novel should have appealed to me, I found myself just not interested enough to finish it.

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