Hello, fellow Monk readers! Yes, I was supposed to write this yesterday. I did actually finish the reading yesterday, but I got distracted. Warning to those not actually reading along: these posts will be full of spoilers. No carefully not telling you stuff, we chat about everything, though as this is only the first two chapters, (75 pages or so) it’s not going to spoil too much. I read this once ages ago, though happily I don’t remember what happens so it’s like reading it for the first time. It’s quite lively though reading a book over 200 years old always takes some concentration.
So what do we have? A bunch of characters – the women I’m finding difficult to keep apart mentally. First we have Antonia – timid and shy 15 year old from Murcia, she n sooner shows up in Madrid than Don Lorenzo is hot for her. She has come to the church with her old maid aunt who believes Don Lorenzo’s friend Don Christoval is into her and not just trying to distract her from Lorenzo moving in on Antonia. They are all there to hear the most famous monk in Madrid, Ambrosio, speak. He is the monk because he’s all devout and resisted temptation. He could join Lancelot in singing:
C’est moi! C’est moi! The angels have chose
To fight their battles below,
And here I stand, as pure as a pray’r,
Incredibly clean, with virtue to spare,
The godliest man I know!
He’s 30 and as he’s lived in a monastery, no real temptation has beset him. He believes his own publicity and thinks he’s all that. This will, naturally, be his downfall.
And speaking of downfalls, Agnes, Don Lorenzo’s sister became a nun owing to some misunderstanding and now she’s hoping to escape, but the dumb bunny lets her escape plan letter fall in front of Ambrosio who gets all high and mighty and condemns her to whatever pregnant nuns are condemned to. Probably being walled up alive. We don’t know yet except that Ambrosio shows No Mercy. This will, naturally, be his downfall. She curses him but good.
And finally we have Rosario. A young monk who has become great pals with Ambrosio, but will not show his face. Un huh. Sure enough, he’s really named Matilda and he/she sneaked into the monastery to be with Ambrosio. Ambrosio, when his own interests are affected, becomes less high and mighty and tries to make her leave, but then he sees her breast and can’t do it. It’s pretty pathetic how noble he thinks himself and then one glimpse of one breast and poof! all gone. There’s more – gypsy curses, poisonous snakes, annoying poetry. It’s fairly chock-a-block and I am as entertained as I remember being the first time I read it.
Apparently a surrealist movie was made out of it. It looks like a 70s hippie version of a monastery. I’m off to see how the others liked it, particularly Alice, who has been unable to get through it before. Okay, it’s not The Moonstone, but it’s no Mysteries of Udolpho either.