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Everybody Expects the Spanish Inquisition OR Happy Birthday “Monk” Lewis

July 9, 2015



Matthew “Monk” Lewis, one of the great one hit wonders of literary infamy, is 240 years old today. Happy Birthday to him. The Monk was the sensation of a sensational decade. Lewis took a look at the concept of the Mediterranean Catholic Gothic, and really threw the kitchen sink at it.

The Monk offers torture, tyranny, incarceration, necromancy, Satanism, nudity, incest and, above all, a prescent discussion of the psychological dangers of sexual repression. Let nobody suggest that Sigmund Freud was the first person to argue that sexual repression might have unforeseeable and destructive by products. Back in the 1790s, Lewis created Ambrosio, as someone who is so tightly wound up that when he snaps, he snaps big time. He is the great failure of sublimation, someone who’s inability to acknowledge his own appetites becomes responsible for his own abject surrender to those appetites – someone whose rigid piety terminates…

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