Author(s): Matthew Gregory Lewis
A masterpiece of the Gothic genre, The Monk tells the story of the Capuchin friar Ambrosio and his fall from grace through desire, greed and lust. Published anonymously and favourably reviewed at first, the novel was later so widely and raucously denounced for its perceived licentiousness, blasphemy and corrupting influence that Lewis had to remove controversial passages from future editions. Unsurprisingly, amidst this furore, the book was immensely popular with the reading public.
Suffused with eroticism and focusing on the corrupting influence of power, The Monk pioneered a shocking new form of Gothic novel, where elements such as mob violence, incest and brutal murders replaced the gentler horrors of earlier practitioners of the genre such as Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe.