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Lewis, Matthew

monk novels gothic wrote

(British, 1775–1818)

Matthew Lewis was 19 when he wrote his first and most successful novel, The Monk (1796). It is an enthusiastic attempt at the Gothic, and all the ingredients are there—murder, torture, the supernatural, sex, and religion. Lewis's central character is Ambrosio, a saintly Capuchin monk, whose very perfection lays him open to temptation by the Devil. The novel is unashamedly sensational. The Monk clearly owes a great deal to the fashion for Gothic novels, such as Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764), also set in Italy, and the more ladylike Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), where yet another maiden is pursued by a malevolent Italian. Lewis wrote two later novels, as well as plays, verse, and a journal about managing a Jamaican sugar plantation.

Mary Shelley. See SUPERNATURAL  SA

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