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Demon worship, imprisonment, illicit desire, rape. With such subject matter, it's little surprise that Matthew Gregory Lewis'The Monk became a sensation as soon as it appeared in 1796. England's reading public found the book so compelling that it went through numerous editions within the first couple years of its publication. Today, Matthew Lewis is widely recognized as a central figure in the history of Gothic fiction. In The Monk, he uses the novel's twisting plots and supernatural machinery to expose the dangers of repressed desire, attack religious hypocrisy, and challenge late eighteenth-century definitions of virtue and propriety.