Y’all, I was mad at this section of the readalong, but can I confess something real quick? The person I was really mad at . . . was me.
When I wrote my post for Monkalong Part 1, I didn’t say anything about Lorenzo’s sister Agnes, who got pregnant WHILE A NUN. In my defense, so many goddamn things happened in the first two chapters that it was really hard to figure out where to focus my attention, and THE MONK was just more interesting than poor old Agnes, as well as being, you know, the eponymous character. Obviously Matthew Gregory Lewis caught wind of this omission on my part, because the next two chapters were the Incredibly Lengthy Saga of How Agnes Got Pregnant While a Nun.
What follows are nesting-doll stories in which Agnes’s lover, Alphonso (also, coincidentally, the relative whom sweet dumb Antonia hopes to convince to give her money) tries to prove to Lorenzo that he is legit, and part of that story includes another lady telling Alphonso a story to prove that she is legit, and her story includes the first instance in this book of rape. And hopefully also the last because that is not my jam. You better watch out, Matthew Gregory Lewis. You are on the thinnest of ice with this.
The story Alphonso tells Lorenzo occupies two chapters. To put that into perspective, there are twelve chapters in this book total. That means that more than fifteen percent of this book is just Alphonso explaining to Lorenzo how and why he knocked up Lorenzo’s sister. At the end of this UNBELIEVABLY LONG GODDAMN STORY, Lorenzo tells Alphonso that ordinarily he’d have to kill Alphonso to defend his sister’s honor, but in this case he’s not going to do it because, and God knows I quote, “The temptation was too great to be resisted.” What the shit, Matthew Gregory Lewis.
Then Alphonso goes home and there’s a poem. You can fuck right off, sir, if you think that I’m going to read a damn poem after you just wasted thirty-two thousand words (I counted) on a story that you could have told in two sentences, to wit: “I snuck into the monastery. We had sex.”
Lorenzo gets Alphonso to agree to financially support Antonia and her mother, and in a shocking twist, when he tells this to Antonia’s mother, Elvira does not immediately offer Antonia to him in marriage out of gratitude.
Instead she says that Lorenzo can marry Antonia if his whole family agrees to it in writing or something. That Lorenzo doesn’t get all entitled and furious about this and make assignations with Antonia in secret kind of makes me think better of him. I mean, that, and the time he had to sit through an hours-long story about How His Sister Got Pregnant While a Nun.
Finally, Lorenzo goes to the convent with a papal dispensation calling for Agnes’s release so she can marry Alphonso and live in wedded bliss, the Mean Nun in charge of the convent tells him that Agnes is DEAD.
I revise my earlier statement. I am mad at me for not talking about Agnes in my last post, but I am much madder at Matthew Gregory Goddamn Lewis for making me sit through thirty-two thousand words just to explain how one lady got knocked up.
Thanks as ever to Alice for hosting this gloriously insane readalong! Head over to her place for (possibly) more measured remarks on this section, which despite the title of the book contains absolutely no MONK whatsoever.