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image id: ps_cps_cd3_042

Unknown artist [possibly Isaac Robert Cruikshank (1789–1856)]
Engraving, hand-colored
London?, n.d. [watermark 1815]
NYPL, The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle

Readers and reading were sources of constant interest to artists in the Romantic period. The young woman shown here holds Matthew Gregory Lewis’s “terror-gothic” The Monk (1796). A phantasmagoria of murder, suicide, corruption, and incest, it is one of the few novels for which nineteenth-century disapproval might still seem justified, and it was blamed for considerable moral degradation. The subject of Comfort heats her posterior along with her imagination.

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