i mean that literally, by the way. there are a GREAT many damned nuns in this book
several fun facts about the monk:
-every monk/nun in this book (& trust me there are many) is required to be evil or sexy or BOTH
-it is quite unbelievably kinky
-this is my flippant way of telling you that it runs the gamut from accidentally avowing oneself to the ghost of a bleeding nun to being tortured by the spanish inquisition to crossdressing to incestuous rape in a crypt full of rotting nuns (did i mention there are nuns)
-its author was buddies with de sade, surprising no-one
-a dude gets thrown off a mountain by satan to be eaten by insects. i thought that was quite a cool death
-the dude who wrote it, matthew lewis, was an MP (lol) for a seat that before him was held by william beckford, the author of uber-gothic novel vathek (posted abt here) & whom… i am slightly obsessed with
-i realise this last fact is fun to almost nobody except me i like gothic lit let me live
this book is… so ridiculous. help me, reader. it is so ridiculous. it is ridiculous enough to be vastly entertaining & really rather compelling to read, & every so often the prose does something interesting, but mostly it’s a luridly coloured, hallucinatory, & distinctly mawkish lightning-strike of a book. (addendum several days of thought after writing this: it also has a rather carefully designed plot with some delightfully witty symbology.)
besides the huge quantity of nuns, bleeding & otherwise, there are bandits, faithful & poetically inclined pages, twinky monks who turn out (to my disappointment) to be cross-dressing witches, rotting babies, & of course not quite enough beautiful virginal females to go round. it is the sort of book where a woman’s reaction to anything bad happening is to enter a convent, no matter the scale of the incident. also, the characters’ names seem to have been patchworked together from various other gothic tales (isabella, matilda, lorenzo, theodore), which, when one takes keats & byron (who also used these names), certainly speaks to the palimpsest nature of gothic lit.
the genuinely unsettling moments aren’t anything to do with ghosts or ghouls, though. the genuinely unsettling moments evoke the fury of a french revolution-inspired mob as they storm the convent & reduce the prioress to an unrecognisable slab of meat, or (& this one i confess is a little ghoulish) the sensations experienced by the imprisoned agnes as she lies in a dungeon & feels things moving over her in the dark- crawling & awful- & about a sense of invasion undeniably lascivious.
which is all to say that i found it vastly entertaining, & i will no doubt spend my impending seminar alternately calling it dumb as shit & defending it from the depredations of other people also calling it dumb as shit but for different reasons.
til next time.