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Reading Gothic FictionA Bakhtinian Approach$
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Jacqueline Howard

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198119920

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198119920.001.0001

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Anticlerical Gothic: Matthew Lewis’s The Monk

Anticlerical Gothic: Matthew Lewis’s The Monk

(p.183) 5 Anticlerical Gothic: Matthew Lewis’s The Monk
Reading Gothic Fiction

Jacqueline Howard

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the ways in which Matthew Lewis's novel, The Monk, can be said to define itself against Udolpho. In brief, it does this by expropriating discourses of sensibility, taste, and the sublime in a minimal, sometimes cynical way and by interpolating and transforming English, German, and other European folk-tales, ballads, fragments of novels, and scenes from anticlerical and other drama. Given The Monk's Preface and the sensationalism of stretches of its narrative, it is hypothesized that Lewis's expropriation of Sturm und Drang sentiments both stakes his (male) claim to authorship in opposition to Radcliffe, and mocks strict, middle-class codes of conduct. Despite its anticlerical, ‘Protestant’ stance, The Monk can be read as a rewriting of the myth of Gothic ancestry in terms of a fantastic, amoral universe.

Keywords:   Udolpho, Gothic ancestry, anticlerical drama, sensibility, taste, sublime, Sturm und Drang

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