Thursday, 1 October 2015

Monkalong Week 1: Early Matilda Stanning

Welcome to week one of The Monk Readalong, where we talk about chapters 1 and 2 of The Monk, by Matthew Lewis.

Not that one. (I almost used the tighty-whitey pic,
but it makes me too uncomfortable I can't bear it.
Neville Longbottom, put your trousers on.)

TO NOTE, this Matthew Lewis wrote The Monk in 10 weeks, before he turned 20. What a show off.

Alice is acting as our host and already killing it, which is a surprise to a total of zero people (THANKS, ALICE). I'll be reading the Oxford World's Classics paperback edition, so any page numbers noted relate to that. Also, my name is Kayleigh, if we haven't inter-met. (Hello!) Final bit of admin: spoilers reside below. And so, to monking: 

Aunt Leonella introduces a general tone for The Monk in the first chapter, by blaspheming at every opportunity immediately upon setting foot in a church. Actual "Christ!"s and "Jesus!"es -- would this not be hugely shocking language for the time? Or am I making the past more innocent than it ever was? This is a thing, I understand, that we present-ers are prone to do.

Also introduced in Chapter 1, something we can assume we'll see again: gender-burns.
She was wise enough to hold her tongue. As this is the only instance known of a Woman's ever having done so, it was judged worthy to be recorded here. (p 34)

Then we get a fortune-teller who tells us the fortunes of Leonella and Antonia (of the full and beautiful throat), and Antonia hears of her doom with trepidation and then immediately brushes it off. What does she have to worry about with a throat like that, anyhow.

Chapter 2 makes me super excited for the rest of the book. Ambrosio is hilarious. "God, I'm the best. No one is as pious and humble as me. Suck it, Saints." 

The scene between Ambrosio and Rosario in the grotto starts out really rather gay, does it not? But, as we are meant to garner -- according to the endnote in my edition -- from Ambrosio's asking "You have a sister," Rosario is a lady in disguise, a la Billy Shakes' Viola. Rosario, gentle reader, is actually Matilda.

Side-note: We have some social commentary happening regarding women being seen (by men) as temptation merely by existing. As if any action a woman takes, even if that action is something so innocuous as responding when spoken to, is an act of seduction (bringing to mind that panel from Persepolis 


[which I still haven't read {kicks self}]).

So we meet Matilda, and friends, I love her. Matilda is working it. Firstly, she is definitely a witch. 

Secondly, she plays Ambrosio like that harp-or-whatever she plays by his bedside. My two favourite moves thus far: her wording, later on in that grotto scene, of the situation so that, if Ambrosio does force her out, he's admitting he is as base and susceptible as other mortals; and her planting of a portrait of Madonna in her likeness. Yow, Matilda.

What is her game? Is all this to get some saintly sexytimes? Does she want to bring down Ambrosio for some reason (any speculations on what that reason might be?)? Also, really, the setup for the poison and the sucking out thereof, really. Really. And the way Matilda phrased how she might be cured of this poison? It's a setup for porn, buds. Porn or a demonic ritual and really.

His kisses vied with Matilda's in warmth and passion. (pg 90)

And lo, the ancestor of the line "their tongues battled for dominance." Mark your fanfic bingo cards accordingly. 

I likely won't be able to make the reading-rounds until Friday/Saturday, but rest assured I am breathless with anticipation to see which Matthew Lewis pictures you've chosen.



    OMG I love that you know the "tongues battled for dominance" fanfic cliche. KAYLEIGH WHY DO YOU NOT LIVE CLOSER SO I CAN HUG YOU.

    1. I WOULD LIKE TO MOVE PLEASE, into hugging proximity at least.

      But really tongues battling for dominance is an unfortunate image. Definitely brings to mind every kiss on SNL ever.

  2. Ahahaha, omg I forgot about the fortune-teller! She was briefly my favorite character, except then there was Christoval noping right out of there before someone could tell him a Secret (good call, Christoval!), and I faithlessly forgot about the fortune-teller. I loved what a hilariously bitchy poem-fortune she told to Leonella. Serves Leonella right for making dumb little Antonia take off her veil when she didn't want to.

    1. Oh right - good role modelling, Christoval! That fortune teller used her powers for good: "I can see from this line on your hand that you are an unfortunate goof of a lady." (Leonella was hilarious, though; looking forward to more her.)

  3. Eh, I'm pretty sure people did a lot *more* of that blaspheming stuff back then.

    Also, bahahaha, I love that you brought in the battling tongues. Is there an actual fanfic bingo card in existence, because I need one.

    1. I bet you're right, re: blaspheming. Those saucy past-dwellers.

  4. "She was wise enough to hold her tongue. As this is the only instance known of a Woman's ever having done so, it was judged worthy to be recorded here"

    I forgot about this! I read it and laughed and said "WOW, are you ever 19"

  5. Your John gif, that was perfect. Well done.

    Also that panel has convinced me I NEED to read Persepolis. I have been terrible about actually picking up any graphic novels and I've gone back and forth on this one but yeah, that panel. Done. I'm buying it this weekend.


    2. That gif is from the Fargo series that aired on FX! Which. Is. Amazing. Martin Fucking Freeman, my friends. Also this actress Allison Tolman is in it and she is Spectacular.

      AGH I NEED TO BUY PERSEPOLIS. Do it, Alley. Do it for both of us.

  6. That gender burn. I rolled my eyes at that one. Yeah, hardee-har-har Lewis.

    1. You think you're SO CLEVER, Lewis. Although, to be fair, the men we've met thus far aren't exactly shining beacons of greatness. Basically, everyone's the worst so let's throw some demon nuns about, is what I gather Lewis' game to be.

  7. Your gifs are excellent and I love you. DUDE. And YES that Persepolis panel is my faaaavourite ever!!!

    I was shocked at the blasphemy too but I have this tendency to forget that before the Victorians there was a whole time of rakes and libertines and everyone was just generally a bit naughty? I kind of tend to think of everything between the end of the Tudors and the end of WWI as the Victorian times which I am led to believe is not historically accurate, if you can believe it!

    1. Yes! It goes directly from Shakespeare's dick jokes to Clack's tracts, as far as I'm concerned.

  8. I can't even believe I missed an opportunity to Google image search all the Matthew Lewis pictures. It's like I'm not even a human woman. Thank God for you all.

    So that clearly sexist line about how women talk too much has a footnote that says, "One of the novel's more facetious remarks about women." And I'm not sure what the point of that is, except maybe to reassure us that it's all downhill from here?

    Aaaaand because I read a tiny bit of the introduction, I can report that Matthew most likely fibbed about writing the book in only 10 weeks. There's evidence in his letters that he started it two years earlier. Which I wouldn't even call him out on if he hadn't written to his mother and sounded like SUCH a douche: "What do you think of my having written, in the space of ten weeks, a romance of between three and four hundred pages octavo?" And I hope his mom wrote back, "Well I think you're full of shit, obviously."


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