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.