Lewis, Matthew G.

9 July 1775 - 10 May 1818
matthew lewis
This unattributed etching of Lewis (you can see what may well be the source by clicking on the "Portraits" link at left) served as the frontispiece to The Life and Correspondence of M. G. Lewis (London: Henry Colburn, 1839).


Like Mary Shelley, Lewis made a huge impact with his teenage (and only) novel The Monk, which more or less defined the far edge of sensational Gothicism when it was published in 1796. Indeed, the notoriety of the novel was such that Lewis was forever after known as "Monk" Lewis, and the fact he served as a Member of Parliament (from 1796 to 1802, in an utterly undistinguished role) only heightened the shock value. Lewis went on to write a number of plays, poems, and translations, many of which featured Gothic themes and motifs. As a playwright Lewis was rather successful, his melodramatic flair finding an appreciate audience in the days of Romantic drama, although Lewis abandoned the theater when he inherited his family's West Indian sugar plantations.

Sites:
Biographical essay
[Stuart Sim, U Sunderland; Literary Encyclopedia]
Brief biographical note
[Wikipedia]
Biographical note
Emphasizes The Monk (naturally) and notes Lewis' influence on a number of other writers.  [Keith Parkins]
Matthew G. Lewis
Overview. [Eric B. Olsen, History of Horror]
Brief biographical note
[Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., Bartleby.com]
Brief biographical note
[Gothic Labyrinth]
Brief biographical note a LitGothic etext
[John W. Cousins, A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, 1910]
Bibliography
[FantasticFiction]
Portraits
[National Portrait Gallery, London]


Etexts:
Adelmorn the Outlaw
Available as e-facsimile in PDF. [The Haunted Curtain]

"Alonzo the Brave and the Fair Imogine"
One of the poems from The Monk (Vol. III, ch. 2); it's a treatment of The Spectre Bridegroom motif.
- at LitGothic (PDF) a LitGothic etext

"The Anaconda"
From Lewis' collection Romantic Tales, a 4-volume work first published in 1808; this collection was a hodge-podge, many of its pieces adapted from European sources. [1808]
- at LitGothic (111K)a LitGothic etext

The Bravo of Venice

The Castle Spectre
The entire etext of Lewis's 1796 Gothic drama, possibly his most successful and well-known drama, is finally available. [Diego Saglia, U of Parma]
-- Discussion of this play and of Lewis [The Haunted Curtain]
-- This play was twice turned into Gothic chapbooks by Sarah Wilkinson.

"The Erl-King"
Lewis' translation of the famous C18 German poem by Goethe.
- at LitGothic a LitGothic etext

"Mistrust; or Blanche and Osbright: A Feudal Romance"
- at BlackMask [PDF]

The Monk [1796]
One of the most notorious of Gothic novels, The Monk is an essential text for any fan of the Gothic. It is libidinally charged and features many of the quintesstial Gothic plot engines: lust, a Faustian pact with the devil, magic, hidden identity, incest, cruelty, murder, drugs, religious hypocrisy.... it's pretty much the complete Gothic package.
- at Project Gutenberg (817K or zipped version 339K)
- at Munsey's/BlackMask

Additional Monk resources:
-- brief remarks by George Saintsbury, from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature (1907-1921)  [Bartleby.com]
-- brief discussion and extracts [W. W. Norton]
-- brief overview  [Sweet Despise, Ian Davey]
-- brief commentary [Christopher MacLachlan, U St. Andrews]
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"Sir Guy, the Seeker"
This poem is also from Romantic Tales.
- at Ruritanian Muglugs [Georges Dodds]

Tales of Wonder [1801]
A collection of Gothic ballads, many of them translations, by Lewis, of Continental works. There are also original contributions by Lewis, Robert Southey, Sir Walter Scott, and others.
Volume 1; Volume 2 [GoogleBooks]

Lewis' collection also inspired — not surprisingly, given Lewis' high profile as the author of The Monk and a Member of Parliament — several wickedly humorous parodies. Many thanks to Prof. Douglass H. Thomson for bringing these works to my attention and making etexts of them available for inclusion here:



Essays:
"The Gothic as Camp: Queer Aesthetics in The Monk"
by Max Fincher [Romanticism on the Net

"The Sexuality of Authorship in The Monk"
by Lauren Fitzgerald [Romanticism on the Net

The nine essays immediately below are from the special Matthew Lewis issue (volume 8, Nov. 1997) of Romanticism on the Net, guest-edited by Frederick S. Frank:

"Simon Brett on Matthew Lewis"
Overview of Lewis' novel. [Simon Brett, Kings and Queens of Crime]

"'Fitting the Taste of the Audience Like a Glove': Matthew Lewis's Supernatural Drama".
by Jonathan C. Glance [Mercer U])



Reviews:
Monk Lewis: A Critical Biography
By D. L. MacDonald. (U Toronto Press, 2000). Reviewer: Max Fincher. [Romanticism on the Net]
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"Matthew Lewis."