Lewis the Monk
_The Monk_ (1797), by Matthew Gregory Lewis, is one of the marvellous books
of the supernatural Gothic of its period, particularly if you can get a
reprint of its first edition, before Lewis (for legal reasons) cut some of
the sensationalism. One critic refers to its "scenes of lust and torture
and rotting corpses." A reader has to endure its anti-Catholicism (the monk
is a villain), typical of the Gothic novels of the time; but the novel shows
that the horror novels of our period (Stephen King, Anne Rice, et al.), as
suggested by King's comment in a non-fiction book that he always included a
gross-out scene in each novel, are part of a long, sensational tradition.
Lewis's book also shows that these novels are often crudely written. But it
sold lots of copies, and Lewis was thereafter nicknamed "Monk" Lewis.