Matthew Lewis wrote The Monk before he turned 20 and published it anonymously. In this gothic horror novel, a 17th-Century monk named Ambrosio is lured into sin and and corruption, with the ever-present backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition just offstage. Ambrosio seduces, kills, consorts with the devil, the whole she-bang.

The book was banned almost immediately upon publication, for pretty obvious reasons. Unlike many banned books, this is not a deeply subversive political work, or a biting satire. This is pure exploitation, and it's awesome.

Lewis removed what he believed were the offending passages and published a second edition, this time using his full name, as well as his title of Member of Parliament (an honor he received when he was only 21). He also got a glowing review from the Marquis de Sade.

This scene is from late in the book. Ambrosio's crimes have been discovered, and he's been sentenced to death. He begins this passage in his cell, the night before he's to be executed for his crimes. And, well, you'll hear what happens.



Book 6 Chapter 4 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones over the course of four years.

Let's face it: this chapter isn't very rich in incident. Squire Allworthy takes Western's proposal of marriage to young Blifil. Blifil carefully considers a few factors (namely, how much money he stands to make) and prudently accepts. Word gets back to Western, who then asks his sister to tell Sophia. Now, in this long train of information, what could possibly go wrong?

AuthorMark Turetsky