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Beyond 'Monk' Lewis

Simpson , Samuel (2017) Beyond 'Monk' Lewis. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Abstract “What do you think of my having written in the space of ten weeks a Romance of between three and four hundred pages Octavo?”, asks Matthew Gregory Lewis to his mother. Contrary to the evidence—previous letters to his mother suggest the romance was a more thoughtful and time-consuming piece—Lewis was the first to feed a myth that would follow him for the rest of his life and beyond, implying he hurriedly cobbled together The Monk (1796) and that it was the product of an impulsive, immature and crude mind to be known soon after as, ‘Monk’ Lewis. The novel would stigmatise his name: he was famously criticised by Coleridge for his blasphemy, Thomas J Mathias described The Monk as a disease, calling for its censure, and The Monthly Review, for example, insisted the novel was “unfit for general circulation”. All these readings distract us from the intellectual and philosophic exploration of The Monk and, as Rachael Pearson observes, “overshadow…the rest of his writing career”. This thesis is concerned with looking beyond this idea of ‘Monk’ Lewis in three different ways which will comprise the three chapters of this thesis. The first chapter engages with The Monk’s more intellectual, philosophic borrowings of French Libertinism and how it relates to the 1790s period in which he was writing. The second chapter looks at Lewis’s dramas after The Monk and how Lewis antagonised the feared proximities of foreign influence and traditional British theatre. The third chapter attempts to look more closely at The Monk’s influences on later gothic novels— Zofloya, or The Moor (1806) and Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)—in light of Lewis’s philosophic explorations I discuss in the first chapter.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Mr Samuel Simpson
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2017 11:24
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17458

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