Hot Best Seller

The Mysteries of Udolpho

Télécharger The Mysteries of Udolpho PDF

The Mysteries of Udolpho est le meilleur livre et recommandé de lire. Inscrivez-vous maintenant pour accéder à des milliers de livres disponibles en téléchargement gratuit. L'inscription était gratuite.


Compare

With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine's inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine's inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt's new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her. This new edition includes an introduction that discusses the publication and early reception of the novel, the genre of Gothic romance, and Radcliffe's use of history, exotic settings, the supernatural, and poetry.

Télécharger The Mysteries of Udolpho PDF

30 review for The Mysteries of Udolpho

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This mammoth, prolix book--the first wildly popular gothic novel--is indifferently written, poorly planned,and inconsistent in purpose and tone. Radcliffe's style is irritating, filled with continual redundancies, superfluous commas and dialogue that is often stilted and improbable. The plot doesn't even get in gear until a third of the way through(two hundred pages!), and it loses its focus and dissipates its power in the last one hundred and fifty pages or so when Radcliffe introduces some pal This mammoth, prolix book--the first wildly popular gothic novel--is indifferently written, poorly planned,and inconsistent in purpose and tone. Radcliffe's style is irritating, filled with continual redundancies, superfluous commas and dialogue that is often stilted and improbable. The plot doesn't even get in gear until a third of the way through(two hundred pages!), and it loses its focus and dissipates its power in the last one hundred and fifty pages or so when Radcliffe introduces some pallid new characters and orchestrates a few second-rate thrills that--in their similarities to events of the earlier narrative--verge on self-parody. Yet the novel has an undeniable power and charm. A lot of this is due to Emily, the virtuous and loving (but never stuffy) young lady protagonist who would certainly become a model for Austen (as well as a source of parody) not only because of her sensible moral nature and highly developed sensibility but also because of her willingness to modify her often mistaken judgments when confronted with more reliable information. The villain Montoni is also memorable, the prototype of Heathcliffe, Rochester, de Winter and many more. He is not really evil so much as thoroughly selfish, completely arrogant, convinced of the absolute privilege of patriarchy and nobility. He is believable, and therefore infuriating, a worthy ancestor of a long line of gothic villains. A great deal of the charm of this book, however, comes from the characters' appreciation of the beauty and power of landscapes: fathers educate daughters through landscapes,lovers gaze and comment upon landscapes to each other, evaluate the sincerity and subtlety of one another's character and consciousness based on their reaction to landscapes, and later, when circumstances have forced them apart, they will comfort themselves with the solitary contemplation of landscapes. The villains show no interest in landscapes whatsoever, and the good people, when oppressed and harried by evil, cease to be moved even by the beauties of nature, no matter how sublime they may be. Besides, I believe one of the reasons the book shifts from France to Italy--in addition to signaling a shift in narrative from pastoral simplicity to Machiavellian malice--is in order that the heroine may move from contemplating the tranquil landscapes of Claude Lorrain to surveying the craggier and threatening vistas of Salvator Rosa. "Landscape as character" is as important to "The Mysteries of Udolpho" as it is to "Wuthering Heights" or any Anthony Mann western. If you pay close attention to the landscapes of "Udolpho" (and Emily and Montoni as well) you just might enjoy--as I did--this unwieldy and often infuriating novel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    “A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness. Store it with ideas, teach it the pleasure of thinking; and the temptations of the world without, will be counteracted by the gratifications derived from the world within.” Castle Udolpho Emily St. Aubert has done her best to prepare her mind for the outside world, but when both her parents sud “A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness. Store it with ideas, teach it the pleasure of thinking; and the temptations of the world without, will be counteracted by the gratifications derived from the world within.” Castle Udolpho Emily St. Aubert has done her best to prepare her mind for the outside world, but when both her parents suddenly succumb to a sickness she finds herself at the mercy of “charity”. Her aunt, the sister of her father, reluctantly takes her in. Her aunt is, well, difficult. ”Madame Montoni was not of a nature to bear injuries with meekness, or to resent them with dignity: her exasperated pride displayed itself in all the violence and acrimony of a little, or at least of an ill-regulated mind. She would not acknowledge, even to herself, that she had in any degree provoked contempt by her duplicity, but weakly persisted in believing, that she alone was to be pitied….” The only source of comfort that Emily has is a young man by the name of Valancourt, totally unsuitable as a marriage match because he is unfortunately the second son and primogenitary is still the law of the land in France in 1584. He will have to make his fortune by other means than inheritance. When the husband of her aunt, the dastardly, scheming, brooding, perfectly conceived gothic villain Montoni wants to spirit them back to his native land of Italy, Valancourt tries to get Emily to run away with him. She of course refuses otherwise the novel could not have been titled Mysteries of Udolpho. Emily wants her marriage to Valancourt to be validated. She does not want to be one of those women who is the main subject of gossip for the rest of her life. She believes that reason and her own stubbornness will win out. Ann Radcliffe devouts many passages describing the romantic scenery of France and Italy. Emily is a contemplative person, given herself over to many long sighs, and indulging in pleasurable melancholy about her future. ”The spiral summits of the mountains, touched with a purple tint, broken and steep above, but shelving gradually to their base; the open valley, marked by no formal lines of art; and the tall groves of cypress, pine and poplar, sometimes embellished by a ruined villa, whose broken columns appeared between the branches of a pine, that seemed to droop over their fall.” They go to Venice which is when Emily finds out Montoni’s true intentions toward her virtue. He plans to marry her to one of his friends Count Morano. “But she avoided even naming Count Morano, much more the declaration he had made, since she well knew how tremblingly alive to fear is real love, how jealously watchful of every circumstance that may affect its interest; and she scrupulously avoided to give Valancourt even the slightest reason for believing he had a rival.” But when Montoni’s luck at the gaming tables of Venice abandon him he is forced to flee to his castle in the Apennines Mountains...Castle Udolpho. Morano is left high and dry (mostly dry, but slightly damp it is Venice after all), with flowers in hand, wondering where his bride to be has been taken. The plot really picks up at Udolpho. The book starts to feel more like a gothic horror than a gothic romance. ”She saw herself in a castle, inhabited by vice and violence, seated beyond the reach of law or justice, and in the power of a man, whose perseverance was equal to every occasion, and in whom passions, of which revenge was not the weakest, entirely supplied the place of principles.” The quotes from Shakespeare start to come fast and furious. ”Unnatural deeds Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine, than the physician.” MACBETH So there are unusual noises, ball lightening dancing along iron spear heads, mysterious phantom figures, a veiled portrait that when seen renders our heroine insensible, Italian bandits, a siege, cold damp walls, secret passageways and haunting music. Emily does not get a full nights sleep the whole time she is imprisoned at Udolpho. She begins her mental jousting with Montoni. He is interested in her estates. She is interested in her freedom, but she does not want it bought too dearly. ”Emily, as she observed him in silence, saw, that his countenance was darker and sterner than usual. ‘O could I know,’ said she to herself, ‘what passes in that mind; could I know the thoughts, that are known there, I should no longer be condemned to this torturing suspense!’” Montoni is heartless, cruel, and unprincipled. He is feral in his desire for self-preservation. He sneers at the weak and feels justified in his criminal behavior. ”His character also, unprincipled, dauntless, cruel and enterprising, seemed to fit him for the situation. Delighting in the tumult and in the struggles of life, he was equally a stranger to pity and to fear; his very courage was a sort of animal ferocity; not the noble impulse of a principle, such as inspirits the mind against the oppressor, in the cause of the oppressed; but a constitutional hardiness of nerve, that cannot feel, and that, therefore, cannot fear.” Oh yes...that...is...Montoni! Emily must survive the twists and turns of the plot as she tries to defeat a Goliathan opponent. She discovers in the process that she has more spine than she would have ever dreamed possible buoyed by her own sense of the injustice of her circumstances and her desire to return to Valancourt. ”‘You may find, perhaps, Signor,’ said Emily, with mild dignity, ‘that the strength of my mind is equal to the justice of my cause; and that I can endure with fortitude, when it is in resistance of oppression.’” I couldn’t help thinking about all the women across Europe in 1793 who were stealing time away from their other duties to read this book. It was a phenomenal best seller, in fact, mentioned in some places as the truly first best selling novel. Ann Radcliffe was not the first gothic novelist, but she was the first to legitimize the genre. Imitators were soon flooding the market with gothic romances to a public that had an insatiable addiction for the combination of thwarted love, dastardly villains, and crumbling castles. Ann Radcliffe lost in her own gothic world. Radcliffe herself was a recluse, rarely venturing outside away from her writing. I can only speculate that she made her ivory castle and cared little for a real life that was beyond her control. Wouldn’t we all like to lose ourselves in the world of our own making? The book dragged in the beginning for this reader, but gains momentum after Montoni enlivens the plot with his ingenious, scheming, larger-than-life personality. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  3. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    Emily St. Aubert, has it all, loving parents, a nice, little, charming estate, she lives on, in southern France, Anno Domini 1584. The young gentlewoman, adores walking around her father's land, looking at the nearby, exotic Pyrenees Mountains, watching the calm Garonne River, flow by, hearing it making soft noises, as it goes along. The lady likes playing an instrument, singing songs, to her affectionate father and mother, while sitting on a hill, with a great view, an enchanting moment, never Emily St. Aubert, has it all, loving parents, a nice, little, charming estate, she lives on, in southern France, Anno Domini 1584. The young gentlewoman, adores walking around her father's land, looking at the nearby, exotic Pyrenees Mountains, watching the calm Garonne River, flow by, hearing it making soft noises, as it goes along. The lady likes playing an instrument, singing songs, to her affectionate father and mother, while sitting on a hill, with a great view, an enchanting moment, never forgotten. The Chateau is located in the province of Gascany, a beautiful area, the Atlantic Ocean., a short distance from their home, away from the tumultuous politics and battles, of Paris, meeting her beloved Monsieur Valancourt, the perfect life, but the world keeps turning, and not always in the right direction. Emily soon loses both her parents, medicine being very primitive, back then, Aunt Cheron, her father's unkind sister, takes Emily to her home, the cold aunt promptly marries an evil Italian, Signor Montoni, who wants to take, Emily and her aunt, to his mysterious Castle of Udolpho, a remote valley, in Italy. Faithful Valancourt, warns the teenager, not to go , and instead marry him immediately, he has heard things! And very unfavorable to Signor Montoni, but Emily promised her dying father, to stay with his sister, until she comes of age, do I have to tell you, she makes a big, big , mistake?... Climbing the treacherous, but alluring Alps Mountains, by stagecoach, to get over to Italy, afraid of the much feared banditti, active there, the small party, arrives after a long, dull journey, at there intended destination, without incident. First stop, the incomparable, Venice, a dream, in the middle of the ocean , Emily, starts to have fun here, moonlight gondola trips , after Luna, rises out of the beautiful sea, paradise on liquid, but it will not last. Reality shows its ugly face, both to aunt and niece, soon they are held captive, by her new uncle, in the strange , dismal, Udolpho Castle, the party's final, undesirable stop , he needs their estates ( because of money troubles), and doesn't take no, for an answer. Montoni, has a little gambling addiction, of course Uncle Montoni, is the chief of the bandits, here also, raiding the local noblemen and the rich, oblivious, travelers, in the area. The gloomy castle, is haunted too, they say, apparitions are seen at night, weird sounds heard, coming from thin air, odd tales are told about the previous owner, she disappeared , one night in the woods , and was never seen alive, again, people say her ghost, still comes back, at midnight, seeking vengeance, but against who? Poor beautiful, fragile, Emily , always fainting, fleeing an unwanted, persistent suitor, where can she get help? Valancourt, is back in the army, far away, in France, she fears for her safety, the place is full of murderers, riots and fighting between themselves, are nightly occurrences, her room's door, can't be locked, if only, she had taken her admirer's advice... One of the best Gothic novels ever written.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I'm reading this book again to get back in touch with some of the early English gothic novels. I'm struck, in these early pages, by the extreme romanticization and lush description of nature. The natural world has a sort of earthy goodness that draws Emily and her father in. By contrast, the characters who are more urbane are invariably depicted as manipulative and ruthless.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Magrat Ajostiernos

    No puedo puntuarlo porque lo abandoné en la página 500 más o menos (de 800) La verdad que me estaba pareciendo un libro interesante, me encantan esas descripciones a lo Romanticismo alemán, y la segunda parte en el castillo me gustó mucho (la primera se me hizo bastante más pesada) pero llegado a cierto punto perdí el interés, y esta lectura requiere una constancia y unas ganas de las que carezco ahora mismo. Entiendo que sea la cumbre la literatura gótica, ha sido too much gótica para mi xD NO REC No puedo puntuarlo porque lo abandoné en la página 500 más o menos (de 800) La verdad que me estaba pareciendo un libro interesante, me encantan esas descripciones a lo Romanticismo alemán, y la segunda parte en el castillo me gustó mucho (la primera se me hizo bastante más pesada) pero llegado a cierto punto perdí el interés, y esta lectura requiere una constancia y unas ganas de las que carezco ahora mismo. Entiendo que sea la cumbre la literatura gótica, ha sido too much gótica para mi xD NO RECOMENDADO PARA QUIEN NO ESTÉ ACOSTUMBRADO A LOS CLÁSICOS

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    3.5 rounded up. Ye Gads! I started this book back in July, had to table it, and started over the first week in December. Still took me a month to finish. I have to say, what Ms. Radcliffe could have used the most in her writing career was the services of a good editor. I can appreciate long descriptive passages, but how many in depth descriptions of someone collapsing into tears does one need. By halfway through the book, she could have just said "Emily wept" and I would have known she was colla 3.5 rounded up. Ye Gads! I started this book back in July, had to table it, and started over the first week in December. Still took me a month to finish. I have to say, what Ms. Radcliffe could have used the most in her writing career was the services of a good editor. I can appreciate long descriptive passages, but how many in depth descriptions of someone collapsing into tears does one need. By halfway through the book, she could have just said "Emily wept" and I would have known she was collapsed on the floor and near fainting. It is hard to put a finger on why this twisting, convoluted, over-populated work works, but it does. By the time the characters finally reached Udolpho, I was hooked and wanted to see where it was going and how on earth Radcliffe was going to tie up all these loose ends. There were so many threads, it was hard to keep track of which Baron, Count or Chevalier was being followed or accused. There were all the likely Gothic contrivances, castles with corridors beyond end and parts of houses not seen in 20 years, ghosts populating the peasant minds, mysterious music, hidden villainies and secrets. There was Snidely Whiplash, poor little Nell and Dudley Do-Right, ugh I mean Montoni, Emily and Valencourt. Perhaps knowing it was the first time made these stereotypes a little more palatable. In any case, I did enjoy it once I was fully committed and I am glad to have it checked off my list of books I want/need to read. If you are thinking of reading it, I caution you to settle in for a story that can be laborious at times, thrilling at times, and funny in places that it clearly does not intend to be. Enjoy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    "'You speak like a heroine,' said Montoni, contemptuously; 'we shall see if you can suffer like one.'" And if all the sentences in this book were half as good as that one, we'd be looking at a five-star book here, but sadly the rest of it is just hella boring. You might be reading a lame book if you have this thought: "Oh great, it's one of the heroine's long, shitty poems; that's three fewer pages I'll have to actually read." And if you think Montoni's threat means that the torture device you br "'You speak like a heroine,' said Montoni, contemptuously; 'we shall see if you can suffer like one.'" And if all the sentences in this book were half as good as that one, we'd be looking at a five-star book here, but sadly the rest of it is just hella boring. You might be reading a lame book if you have this thought: "Oh great, it's one of the heroine's long, shitty poems; that's three fewer pages I'll have to actually read." And if you think Montoni's threat means that the torture device you briefly glimpsed 50 pages ago is going to make a second, more exciting appearance, you are wrong. Mysteries of Udolpho is the second classic Gothic novel, the first being Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto (1763), which is better mostly because it's much shorter. And Radcliffe pours on the Gothic stuff; this is like a master class in the Rules Of Gothicness, and here's a Gothic drinking game (which I fleshed out quite a bit here): drink for each of the following plot devices: - Spooky castles - Ghosts, vampires or other monsters - Nasty weather - Overwrought language - Ancient family curses - Damsels in distress - (distress of losing their chastity) - in nightgowns - who faint a lot - Byronic men - with secrets If you find yourself drunk you are reading a Gothic novel. Or watching Scooby Doo.                                                            ^ Damsel Anyway there are like two or three spooky castles in Mysteries of Udolpho, I lost count, and who knows how many lengthy descriptions of unpleasant weather, and not a small amount of fainting. Image is from this terrific piece on Gothic novels, which is just about my favorite thing ever. And she manages to make all that just spectacularly boring, which is really sortof an achievement, but not one to be proud of. Here's one of the things about Ann Radcliffe: she really liked landscape paintings, and she didn't get out much, and what that means is that she sets the scene by spending paragraph upon paragraph describing paintings she likes, and that's exactly as boring as it sounds. Here's a painting by her favorite guy, Claude Lorrain: "Shepherds and shit," is probably what this is called She's made an effort to create a twisty, mysterious plot, but she's hilariously terrible at big reveals - plot twists happen with the impact of your grandfather telling an anti-Semitic joke at Thanksgiving, everyone saw it coming and no one liked it - and basically none of it works. Two stars because that one sentence I quoted above is fucking amazing; no more stars because most of the suffering was done by me. 'Cause I was so bored. This is the second classic Gothic novel, but The Monk (1797) is still the first good one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alain Gomez

    "I believe that memory is responsible for nearly all these three-volume novels" -Oscar Wilde One thing I will say for this book is that it made Oscar Wilde's plays even more entertaining for me. I now know what he was talking about when he trashes books of "unusually revolting sentimentality." And what he says is very true. I am absolutely certain that Ann Radcliffe wrote this book as a sort of extended journal for her travels. At least half of it is devoted to scenery descriptions. Now this is "I believe that memory is responsible for nearly all these three-volume novels" -Oscar Wilde One thing I will say for this book is that it made Oscar Wilde's plays even more entertaining for me. I now know what he was talking about when he trashes books of "unusually revolting sentimentality." And what he says is very true. I am absolutely certain that Ann Radcliffe wrote this book as a sort of extended journal for her travels. At least half of it is devoted to scenery descriptions. Now this is not a bad thing in itself. I read "classics" all the time and I understand/appreciate that books tended to be more long winded due to the limited amounts of solo activities available at the time. But this is ridiculous. I should point out that the full title of this book is "The Mysteries of Udolpho, A Romance; interspersed with some pieces of poetry by Ann Radcliffe." SOME pieces?!? Give me a break. She throws in her poetry every chance she gets. Her prose is neither creative or inspired. Every single verse is cheesy, lacking good poetic structure and ALWAYS about nature. This quickly gets redundant and I found myself skipping over her longer ones which can last for pages. I have seen a few reviewers compare this book as the predecessor to Jane Austen. I beg to differ. I have read every single one of Jane Austen's books and these authors are separated by one very crucial fact: Jane Austen is a good writer and Ann Radcliffe is not. Radcliffe's writing style is extremely difficult to follow. Commas seem to be a critical plot point with her. Any kind of sentence and/or dialogue will read something like this: "Emily, called, as she had requested, at an early hour, awoke, little refreshed by sleep, for uneasy dreams had pursued her, and marred the kindest blessing of the unhappy, but, when she opened her casement, looked out upon the woods, bright with the morning sun, and inspired the pure air, her mind was soothed." Yes, that is all one sentence. I am almost positive that I've heard William Shatner talk more fluidly. Despite all my griping about this book, I think the thing that annoyed me the most was that I really just didn't care about Emily. She struck me as very spoiled and sheltered. She cries nonstop and is constantly wallowing in self pity. In reality, none of the characters (not even her "evil" uncle) really abuse her. They are strict and worldly, nothing more. In one especially nauseating scene she is driving in a carriage with her aunt and uncle, wallowing in self pity as usual, and sees some peasants playing instruments. She then thinks to herself how lovely it would be to be a peasant because then she could spend the whole day doing whatever she wanted and not be controlled by an evil aunt and uncle. Umm... what?!? Last time I checked, peasants did NOT live a charmed life. In contrast to Emily and Valancourt, I found myself actually liking her "evil" stepuncle, Montoni. He was pretty much the only character with ANY kind of common sense. To sum up, save yourself a painful +/- 700 page read. If you want a cute and light romance I suggest checking out books by Georgette Heyer. Or go to the Bronte sisters if you want something more Gothic and substantial.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    I chose to read this book the same way many other people did. I was reading the Jane Austen novel Northanger Abbey as part of a group read, and the topic of 'The Horrid Novels' came up. The Mysteries Of Udolpho was the only one I had access to, so it was the one I read. This is a long book, old-fashioned in style (naturally, being published in 1794) but I enjoyed it very much, even though I had my doubts going in because I lost my taste for the Gothic genre years ago. I expected to give up on it, I chose to read this book the same way many other people did. I was reading the Jane Austen novel Northanger Abbey as part of a group read, and the topic of 'The Horrid Novels' came up. The Mysteries Of Udolpho was the only one I had access to, so it was the one I read. This is a long book, old-fashioned in style (naturally, being published in 1794) but I enjoyed it very much, even though I had my doubts going in because I lost my taste for the Gothic genre years ago. I expected to give up on it, but I was intrigued by Emily and her life, and found myself more and more curious about what would happen next with each page I read. I also had fun with this book, as I try to do with anything I read. I learned new words like IZARD, MASSY, and DINGLE. I actually have wild dingles close to me and never knew it until I looked up the definition to see why they seemed to make Emily so nervous. But it was when I read this sentence that I became more curious about Ann Radcliffe herself: "Her present life appeared like the dream of a distempered imagination, or like one of those frightful fictions, in which the wild genius of the poets sometimes delighted." I was impressed by the incredible phrase "like the dream of a distempered imagination"; and the entire sentence made me wonder if perhaps Radcliffe had read something which inspired her to write Udolpho....some frightful fiction (aka 'horrid novel') that set her to conjuring up all sorts of ghostly ideas that led to this book. So I looked her up at Wiki and found.....not a whole lot. She was a very private person and apparently there simply is not enough material about her life for a proper biography to be written. But it is known that she did not believe that the Gothic genre was developing the way she thought it should. In an essay her husband published after her death "she states that terror aims to stimulate readers through imagination and perceived evils while horror closes them off through fear and physical dangers." She saw writers of Gothic novels emphasizing horror as opposed to terror and it is believed that the frustration she felt over this change in focus is what made her quit writing. Imagine the difference between an Alfred Hitchcock movie that will scare the daylights out of you with its suspense, and one of those Chainsaw Massacre things that just go for the shock value of blood and guts everywhere. Radcliffe and Hitchcock would have seen eye to eye. I was happy with the way all the Mysteries of Udolpho were explained in the final chapters: every loose end that I kept wondering about was eventually tied neatly into a satisfying package, and all the explanations made sense to me. I am looking forward to reading more of Radcliffe's work in the future. There is just one question that does not get resolved, unless I missed it somehow. If anyone reads The Mysteries Of Udolpho and finds out what happened to Manchon, please let me know....thanks!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Char

    3.5 stars for this classic gothic novel. This was an engaging read and is considered to be one of the first gothic novels. I loved the language, I loved the characters (except for the evil M. Montoni and Madame Charone) , but I did dislike the extensive descriptions of scenery that seemed to go on forever. I'm glad that I read it, but I doubt I will ever tackle it again for a re-read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Werner

    As British literary scholar Bonamy Dobree notes at the outset of his introduction to the 1966 Oxford Univ. Press edition of this late 18th-century classic, Radcliffe's best-known novel held its place in the canon of British literature for half a century. It was subsequently eclipsed by more accomplished works, and by changing stylistic tastes; but its historical prominence and influence testify to some literary strengths which merit attention for it even today in its own right, as well as for it As British literary scholar Bonamy Dobree notes at the outset of his introduction to the 1966 Oxford Univ. Press edition of this late 18th-century classic, Radcliffe's best-known novel held its place in the canon of British literature for half a century. It was subsequently eclipsed by more accomplished works, and by changing stylistic tastes; but its historical prominence and influence testify to some literary strengths which merit attention for it even today in its own right, as well as for its historical interest. (Some modern readers' curiosity about it is also excited by Jane Austen's mention of it in Northanger Abbey as one of a number of "horrid novels" --"horrid" in terms of their morbid and frightening subject matter, not necessarily of their literary quality!-- that one of the Gothics-loving heroine's friends recommends to her; but I haven't read that particular Austen novel yet, and it wasn't a source of my interest.) The novel had long been on my to-read shelf; so I took advantage of an invitation to take part in a common read of it in one of my Goodreads groups. I'm glad to have gratified my curiosity about it and to have experienced Radcliffe's work for myself, though my appreciation for it didn't rise above mild liking. Its faults will strike most readers more readily than its positives. Radcliffe's style is convoluted and wordy (this is a 672-page tome, that demands quite a commitment of time). To a degree, this is a general characteristic of Romantic fiction in the author's era, and doesn't bother me as such (though it will many modern readers). But while contemporary writers like Scott and Fenimore Cooper are also prolix, they aren't usually repetitive; they use a lot of sentences, but each of them contributes something to the literary edifice they're raising. Radcliffe, however, has a tendency towards repetitive overwriting; that is to say, she often belabors an idea (usually "Woe is me!" angst) by restating it over and over in the same paragraph --or two or three paragraphs-- to make sure we get it. (The principle of "less is more" was not one that she understood.) She also experiments here with interspersing poems nominally composed by the characters in several places in the text. Only one of these, "Stanzas," is IMO a pretty fair narrative poem; the rest are trite and conventional examples of mediocre Romantic lyric poetry, which remind me of why I usually don't like the latter. (There's a good reason why she's remembered as a novelist, rather than as a poet.) Her characterizations are not particularly sharp --though, in fairness, several are sharper than others, and she can also scrutinize and skewer some characters' moral inadequacy and social pretension, in a few isolated passages, that foreshadow writers like Austen. (And while the main villain has been dismissed as "Snidely Whiplash" by one commentator, that's not strictly fair; he's not a cartoon, and not malevolent for its own sake: he's selfish for its own sake, like all selfish persons, but he has realistic selfish reasons for the way he treats people.) Heroine Emily is likable in her way, a kind and decent person with virtuous instincts that command our goodwill and respect. But she's not a strong heroine of the sort that really commands my admiration. She functions in "damsel in distress" mode in her various hardships and jeopardies, copes with stress by fainting a lot (to a degree that's irritating), and her lack of constancy in various situations comes across as vacillating. Radcliffe's drawing of the main male character Valencourt has some of the same flaws. For a historical novel, the handling of the historical component is not particularly adept. Our setting is the 1580s, in southern France, Venice, and the mountains of north-central Italy (where the fictional castle of Udolpho is located). But the unsettled conditions Radcliffe depicts in Italy were actually characteristic of the first half of the century, not the second; and in a number of ways, the characters' attitudes and behaviors would often fit more with the author's own late 18th-century setting. Radcliffe also has a preference for narration over dialogue, with the latter often summarized or paraphrased; and perhaps related to this, in some crucial revelations she tells what happened rather than letting us experience Emily's discovery firsthand. Although Emily is our viewpoint character, we're told in a few crucial places that she sees something shocking, but not told what it was, a kind of authorial cheating that I found manipulative. For all that, there are good points here. The author definitely has an earnest moral vision, and a genuine Christian faith with a strong awareness of its ethical component, which she isn't abashed about expressing. (Though again her tendency to tell rather than show can make her sound a bit preachy in places, and the ending had a certain Aesop's Fables, "...and the moral of the story is...!" quality.) She obviously had a strong affinity for the beauty of the natural world, and that comes through in many descriptive passages, although many readers might find the sheer amount of description overdone. (Radcliffe herself never visited France or Italy; she depended for these passages on pictures drawn or painted by other people, and traveler's written descriptions.) Her plotting is not necessarily predictable; she can surprise on occasion (and genuinely surprised me more than once). Her influence on later writers in the whole Gothic strand of fiction is undeniable, and she's particularly responsible for the tradition that shifted from supernatural speculative premises to naturalistic, descriptive ones. Despite one reference to "monkish superstition," she also deserves credit for a positive portrayal of the genuine Christian faith of her Catholic characters, at a time when anti-Catholic bigotry was quite strong in British Protestantism. (And I write that as a Protestant, but a Protestant who deprecates animosity towards any religious group, and particularly hostility of different bodies of Christians towards each other.) While I doubt that I'll make any particular effort to read more of Radcliffe's work, I'm not sorry to have read this one. (Cynda, thanks for inviting me to take part in the read! :-) )

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jane Greensmith

    These days, most people who know about Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho know about it because Catherine Morland read it and Jane Austen parodied it in Northanger Abbey. However, back when it hit the streets for the first time in May of 1794, it was a blockbuster…I like to think of it as the Twilight of its day. I finally go around to reading it this month, after threatening to for years, and here are my thoughts on it. If you are only going to read one Gothic novel, to see what all the fus These days, most people who know about Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho know about it because Catherine Morland read it and Jane Austen parodied it in Northanger Abbey. However, back when it hit the streets for the first time in May of 1794, it was a blockbuster…I like to think of it as the Twilight of its day. I finally go around to reading it this month, after threatening to for years, and here are my thoughts on it. If you are only going to read one Gothic novel, to see what all the fuss was about, read Udolpho. Unlike most of the others in the genre, it is truly suspenseful (you only find out what’s behind all the mysteries in the story in the last couple of chapters and the romantic dilemma is only resolved in the final few pages). Though not really terrifying, it is remarkably readable and I found it extremely fun. I was warned of the lengthy descriptions of exotic locales, but I enjoyed visiting Venice, Tuscany, Provence, and the Apennines and Alps circa 1581 circa Radcliffe’s mind. She actually never visited most of the places she wrote about, and only visited France once. Her descriptions are the stuff that dreams and legends are made of and seem so familiar and right and romantic and thrilling to those of use who are experienced armchair travelers. I was also warned of the melodramatic plot lines, and these are there in spades, but are a great deal of fun of you let your imagination get the better of you. Emily St. Aubert, the heroine who seems more like a Rousseau-educated English lass than a late Renaissance French mademoiselle, is a plucky, perfect specimen who cries buckets, faints at crucial moments (e.g., just after lifting the black veil, which means we don’t learn what is behind it for another 300 pages), and could give Marianne Dashwood instruction in sensibility and Elinor Dashwood pointers on rationality. The hero of the story, Valancourt, is a bit one-dimensional—we only hear about his depraved behavior in Paris but don’t get to witness it—and the villain, Monsieur Montoni, is wonderfully wicked and amoral but no match for our girl. In thinking about the story, I think Radcliffe did a much better job with her female characters than the male ones. Madame Montoni, Emily’s foolish aunt who plays a reasonably good wicked stepmother for much of the time, has a somewhat interesting character, as does Signora Laurentini. The men are more static—either good or evil, with the exception of Valancourt, whose fortunes exemplify the moral lesson of the story, as expressed in the second-to-last paragraph of the novel: …though the vicious can sometimes pour affliction upon the good, their power is transient and their punishment certain; and that innocence, though oppressed by injustice, shall, supported by patience, finally triumph over misfortune! One unexpected aspect of the book is the poetry that Radcliffe inserts throughout the story. It shouldn’t have surprised me because the full title of the novel is The Mysteries of Udolpho, A Romance; Interspersed with some Pieces of Poetry. Emily is quite good at composing quite lengthy poems, usually when she stumbles upon a particularly gorgeous vista or after a particularly wrenching experience. I confess that I read very few of these, but I imagine Radcliffe’s original readers soaked them up before plunging ahead with the story, which does move at a pretty brisk clip. I am not going to review the plot here as it would take a short novel to simply recap all of Emily’s adventures, but suffice it to say that there are castles, banditti, pirates, dungeons, secret passages, convents, nuns, ghosts, skeletons, poisonings, sword fights, abductions, storms, inheritances, deaths, confessions, and true love. What more could you ask for? Finally, if you do take the plunge and decide to read this definitive Gothic novel, make sure you read the Penguin edition. The "Introduction" by Jacqueline Howard, which I scanned before and read after reading the novel, is absolutely first rate. I'm actually thinking about reading the rest of the Gothic novels mentioned in NA, but I need to catch my breath first.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    As a fan of Austen's Northanger Abbey, I wanted to read this just to find out what all the fuss was about. It features the standard pure-as-the-driven-snow heroine, Emily St. Aubert, who, after the tragic death of her parents, is shipped off to live with her nasty aunt, who has no greater joy in life than to torment Emily, and keep her from her beloved suitor, Valancourt. Just when the nasty aunt finally agrees to let Emily be wed to Valancourt (after it becomes clear that Valancourt is actually As a fan of Austen's Northanger Abbey, I wanted to read this just to find out what all the fuss was about. It features the standard pure-as-the-driven-snow heroine, Emily St. Aubert, who, after the tragic death of her parents, is shipped off to live with her nasty aunt, who has no greater joy in life than to torment Emily, and keep her from her beloved suitor, Valancourt. Just when the nasty aunt finally agrees to let Emily be wed to Valancourt (after it becomes clear that Valancourt is actually a rather well-connected young man with Important Family Ties), in steps the villainous Montoni. Montoni is the smooth Italian Don Juan type, and in record time he manages to seduce the aunt and marry her. Immediately after the marriage, it becomes clear that he is actually a villain and a cad of the highest order, and he wastes no time in whisking Emily and her aunt away to his terrifying castle lair in the mountains of Italy. What horrors await her here are beyond imagination. In addition to the various scoundrels attempting to sully her virtue, Emily must cope with everything from mysterious prisoners to sinister locked rooms, not to mention the assorted corpses and possible ghosts scattered about for good measure. As the foreword to my copy of the book so helpfully points out, on average someone (usually Emily) faints every forty-eight pages in Udolpho. What will become of poor Emily? Will she EVER be reunited with her stalwart lover? Or will she perish alone in the moldering, gloomy hallways of Udolpho? *dun dun dun* In its day, this book was condemned as a "horrid novel". Nowadays, they'd probably call it fluff. All in all, I thought the book was great fun, but I probably won't be reading it again anytime soon. At seven hundred pages, with some very dense descriptive passages, it's a rather exhausting read (no wonder everyone was always fainting). I definitely felt it was worth the trouble, and will be keeping it on my shelf for when I recover (in a few years) to possibly re-read then. It has also given me a desire to read more of Ann Radcliffe's works, which I no doubt will be doing in the future.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maeve

    dry your eyes! if you get bored while you're reading this (and trust me, you will!) count how many times people cry or have their eyes glisten with tears while looking at a beautiful scene or are moved to tears by pity....argggghhh. really.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    You can’t beat Ann Radcliffe’s masterpiece for pure escapism. Written in 1794, it was an immediate sensation, and has been popular ever since. It was published between her ‘Romance of the Forest’ (1791) and ‘The Italian’ (1797), her other two great works of Gothic fiction, and its fans included Byron, Scott and Coleridge. For years after its first appearance there were oblique references to it in Keats and Jane Austen, showing that they assumed familiarity with the book. Containing all the classi You can’t beat Ann Radcliffe’s masterpiece for pure escapism. Written in 1794, it was an immediate sensation, and has been popular ever since. It was published between her ‘Romance of the Forest’ (1791) and ‘The Italian’ (1797), her other two great works of Gothic fiction, and its fans included Byron, Scott and Coleridge. For years after its first appearance there were oblique references to it in Keats and Jane Austen, showing that they assumed familiarity with the book. Containing all the classic ingredients of the Gothic genre, the story follows the heroine Emily, pure and innocent, from the idyll of life on the family estate with her father to the terrors of the castle of Udolpho in the high Apennines. After her father’s death, Emily is taken up by her aunt, who marries the desperate Montoni, and the two women end up in his castle in the mountains. The castle is a vast hulk of a fortress, full of dark, winding corridors, secret passages and mysterious chambers, and Montoni’s companions are a wild lot of heavy-drinking condotierri. The aunt is locked away and eventually dies, leaving Emily to face the terrors of the castle alone. Actually, all of the supposed supernatural events in the novel are eventually explained rationally, and the explanations are usually pretty lame, but this is not the point. If the explanations are lame, you at least had your disbelief held in suspense for the bulk of the book, and if you feel a bit miffed by the eventual explanation you feel that it was a small price to pay for such a ride. After Radcliffe, the genre tended to lean towards more graphic violence, torture and sadism and supernatural events, culminating in Lewis’s ‘The Monk and Maturin’s ‘Melmoth the Wanderer. The emphasis shifted over the years from the tale of terror to the tale of horror, and although Monk and Maturin are undeniably exciting and fascinating, you feel that Radcliffe represents more the pure Gothic tradition. Someone should make a film out of this book. Rachel Weisz would make a good Emily, with Alan Rickman of course as the dastardly Montoni, and Kathy Bates as the stupid aunt.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Herman Gigglethorpe

    One of my friends often reads silly romances, and told me of a gothic novel parody called "Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron" that often appears as a running gag in some of them. I thought that Mysteries of Udolpho would basically be that, except not as a joke. I expected a light read about a cackling supervillain that would make me laugh for a few days. I WAS WRONG. *JUST READ THESE SPOILERS AND SAVE YOURSELF THE TROUBLE OF READING THIS TRIPE* This book is why God created editors, and why paying One of my friends often reads silly romances, and told me of a gothic novel parody called "Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron" that often appears as a running gag in some of them. I thought that Mysteries of Udolpho would basically be that, except not as a joke. I expected a light read about a cackling supervillain that would make me laugh for a few days. I WAS WRONG. *JUST READ THESE SPOILERS AND SAVE YOURSELF THE TROUBLE OF READING THIS TRIPE* This book is why God created editors, and why paying by the word has fallen out of style. Ann Radcliffe loves to spend page after page writing excessive descriptions of the landscapes, travel scenes, and boring poetry. The only way I tolerated this book at all was to skip most of those parts. Much of the action occurs in tedious exposition after the fact (especially the pirate part) rather than in the "present". Some parts are repetitive, such as when Emily St. Aubert constantly pines and weeps for her lover Valancourt. If she had sense, she would have married her rescuer Du Pont rather than the gambling addict Valancourt, but then again, Du Pont is too good for someone who faints all the time. For a Gothic story, it's also very anticlimactic. Whenever something supernatural or interesting might happen, it's always just someone skulking around late at night rather than a ghost or a devil. The thing behind the infamous black veil turns out to be a wax corpse, rather than something as gruesome as the earlier descriptions hinted at. Even the main villain Signor Montoni (insert Funky Winkerbean joke here) is very easily defeated by the Venetian army, and dies in prison far away from the main characters. Although the novel is called "Mysteries of Udolpho", only the middle third of the book takes place there, starting at around page 210 (out of 620 total) or so in my copy. To put the glacial pace of this book into perspective, Jane Eyre resolves two major plotlines by about page 100 or so, even though it is a long novel. Here's some drinking games for this book if you want to get schnockered. ONLY USE ONE OF THESE CONDITIONS AT A TIME, OR YOU WILL PROBABLY DIE! One drink for whenever one of these things happens. -Emily faints. -The word "melancholy" is used. (Probably the most dangerous one) -Annette says a religious interjection like "Holy Virgin!" or "blessed saints!" -A poem is thrown in for no good reason. -Emily cries. -Something that might be supernatural turns out to be mundane. -Whenever a sentence has 6 or more commas. Jesus's instruction to love your enemies may be difficult, but if nothing else in this case I could obey that rule because I wouldn't torture my worst foes by making them read this book. Paul Neil Milne Johnstone poetry is merciful by comparison. EDIT: Something I forgot to mention: The weird moral that "You can judge a book by its cover". The only important character who questions this idea is the one who is murdered.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    A classic of the Gothic Genre. Probably the most fainting I've ever read in a book, but I did enjoy it. It takes the long way around to get to the story. The scenery is described well and we follow the stories & background of many characters.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Israel Montoya Baquero

    Irregular, muy irregular este "Misterios de Udolfo" de Radcliffe. He de reconocer que, debido a su tedioso y monótono comienzo, estuve tentado en más de una ocasión de abandonar la lectura del libro, ya que página tras página constataba que no pasaba absolutamente nada de nada, y la trama no avanzaba de ninguna manera que pudiese considerar atrayente o interesante. ¿Me alegro de no haber cedido al tedio y el aburrimiento producido por esas interminables 200 primeras páginas? Si, y no. Está claro q Irregular, muy irregular este "Misterios de Udolfo" de Radcliffe. He de reconocer que, debido a su tedioso y monótono comienzo, estuve tentado en más de una ocasión de abandonar la lectura del libro, ya que página tras página constataba que no pasaba absolutamente nada de nada, y la trama no avanzaba de ninguna manera que pudiese considerar atrayente o interesante. ¿Me alegro de no haber cedido al tedio y el aburrimiento producido por esas interminables 200 primeras páginas? Si, y no. Está claro que el libro se vuelve notablemente más interesante en su segunda y tercera parte, al trasladarse la acción al italiano castillo de Udolfo, pero, aun así, no deja de ser una suerte de "coitus interruptus", de escenas que en principio prometen mucho, y que, vez tras vez, terminan quedándose en poco menos que nada. Del folletín familiar de la última parte, y de las explicaciones que da Radcliffe, en dos páginas, a TODO lo que ocurre en la novela, prefiero no hablar, ya que me parecieron aburridas y horribles a partes iguales. No obstante, no todo van a ser palos para esta novela, considerada por Lovecraft como cima del "terror gótico", y es que Radcliffe es realmente buena en la creación de atmósferas y sensaciones (mucho más que en el desarrollo de tramas o personajes) que hacen algunos pasajes meramente descriptivos se alcen, con luz propia, como los momentos más sobresalientes del libro, y que llevarán al delirio a los amantes más acérrimos de la novela gótica. ¿Terror?, pues más bien poco, la verdad, y eso me hace discrepar notablemente con el Maestro de Providence, ya que, en mi humilde opinión, "Los misterios de Udolfo" no pasa de ser un folletín romántico, aderezado en algunas de sus partes con algo de misterio (el cual es convenientemente explicado desde un punto de vista racionalista siempre). Y, tengo que decirlo, Emily puede que sea uno de los personajes más odiosos que he tenido el "placer" de llevarme a los ojos. Su ñoñería, indecisión, gazmoñería, y propensión al llanto desolador e incontrolado ha hecho que, en no pocas ocasiones, la totalidad de mis afectos hayan estado dirigidos hacia el horrible y sádico Montoni.

  19. 5 out of 5

    emily

    I have never seen the word "melancholy" used as much as in this book, nor in such widely varied situations. Do not go to Udolpho for character development (there's none -- people are wholly good, wholly servant-funny, wholly evil, or wholly conniving) or for rapid plot developments (we spend a lot of time looking at melancholy vistas, worrying about whether banditti may linger in the forests, or seeing peasant children from a distance and finding them picturesque). However, if you created the "Gr I have never seen the word "melancholy" used as much as in this book, nor in such widely varied situations. Do not go to Udolpho for character development (there's none -- people are wholly good, wholly servant-funny, wholly evil, or wholly conniving) or for rapid plot developments (we spend a lot of time looking at melancholy vistas, worrying about whether banditti may linger in the forests, or seeing peasant children from a distance and finding them picturesque). However, if you created the "Greatest Hits of the Gothic Novel," you'd pretty much get this very book. There's not a convention left untouched -- mysterious birth, mistaken identity, unwilling marriages, maybe ghosts, secret passages, smugglers, loyal servants, spurned lovers, the list goes on and on and on and . . . . At times, I was frustrated by the slowness of the book, and by the apparent dimwittedness of the leading ladies (Emily in particular, though Blanche is pretty much just a younger version of her). However, what's interesting here I think (and what's become more interesting now that I'm done with it and never again have to read one of Emily's melancholy sonnets about being a butterfly and waiting to learn if your fellow butterfly has died) is how ahead of its time it was. I mean, not completely. But ahead of its time in that it's told entirely from the perspective of a character who is completely out of the loop, in terms of the mysteries. She has no idea what forces are moving her around, and even though we as readers see through some of it pretty readily, Emily's state of mind is what drives the narration.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Repellent Boy

    ¡Por fin! Por poco no salgo vivo de este viaje jajaja. He sido bastante bueno con la nota, ya que, finalmente no me ha dejado un mal sabor de boca y tiene partes muy interesantes. ¿Cuál es el problema entonces? Muchos. Demasiados altibajos, excesivas narraciones, protagonista sosa hasta la saciedad,... La historia en cambio me ha gustado, me ha hecho descubrir la novela gótica y me ha dejado con ganas de leer más. Haré una reseña más completa en mi canal, porque hay mucho de lo que hablar.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Olivier Delaye

    This Gothic story is overlong, redundant, long-winded, punctuation-happy, info-dumping-friendly, exposition-enthusiastic-to-a-major-fault, hair-pullingly frustrating, teeth-gnashingly slow.... so why do I like it so much? OLIVIER DELAYE Author of the SEBASTEN OF ATLANTIS series

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pink

    I wanted to like this more than I did, but in truth I found it too long and laborious in places. Nonetheless it's still a great book, with fantastically descriptive writing, an atmospheric setting and a plot to keep you turning the pages. Mixed feelings, but a solid 3 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    Okay this book was written as historical fiction in 1794, telling a story set in the 1500s, by Ann Radcliffe who became popular because of this book, but always wanted to break into the "man's" art of poetry. Knowing that I expected this book to be full of poetry and enlightenment era(barely pre-Jane Austen) ideas/behaviors which it was. The plot of the book is fantastic, very complex and full with just the right amount of scenery, characters, and intrigue. I can see why it was so popular at the Okay this book was written as historical fiction in 1794, telling a story set in the 1500s, by Ann Radcliffe who became popular because of this book, but always wanted to break into the "man's" art of poetry. Knowing that I expected this book to be full of poetry and enlightenment era(barely pre-Jane Austen) ideas/behaviors which it was. The plot of the book is fantastic, very complex and full with just the right amount of scenery, characters, and intrigue. I can see why it was so popular at the time. It's a little hard to read and love now because the heroine, Emily St Aubert, is just not someone I could identify with. She was written to be the ideal of an 18th century woman, I mean she sacrificed her happiness over the perception of propriety, not my kind of gal. Emily is put into these fantastic and horrifying situations, but keeps making her decisions based on a propriety that doesn't seem to matter. At the end of the book Radcliffe had this really great opportunity to take her down a peg or two and show that happiness is not about what other people think, but she missed it. Apparently I was expecting a moral that was just a little too forward thinking. That said, because of this book, I must go see the Pyrenees and the Alps, it is definitely written in place of visual travel brochures.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Abi

    Ugh, I am so glad that's over with. STOP CRYING YOU STUPID WHINY BITCH. Sorry for that outburst, but the 'heroine' of this novel got on my nerves so much. Seriously, her automatic response to absolutely anything is either to faint or, more commonly, to turn away to hide the tears that welled unbidden into her eyes. Literally every third page or so Emily is unable to stop herself from weeping. Yes, her father dies, which is pretty sad, but must you really cry because the mountains are so beautifu Ugh, I am so glad that's over with. STOP CRYING YOU STUPID WHINY BITCH. Sorry for that outburst, but the 'heroine' of this novel got on my nerves so much. Seriously, her automatic response to absolutely anything is either to faint or, more commonly, to turn away to hide the tears that welled unbidden into her eyes. Literally every third page or so Emily is unable to stop herself from weeping. Yes, her father dies, which is pretty sad, but must you really cry because the mountains are so beautiful? The other characters are all shit as well, especially her lover boy who shares her passion for crying at the beauty of mountains.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I picked up The Mysteries of Udolpho second-hand a few years ago. After all, what literature nerd hasn't heard of it and been curious? I found reading it a hilarious journey into the history of popular fiction. It was, really, the "Twilight" of it's day, the must-read that would send young girls off into raptures (as evidenced in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey) complete with a stunningly beautiful and virtuous heroine who is adored by all men who set eyes on her, though she seems to split her ti I picked up The Mysteries of Udolpho second-hand a few years ago. After all, what literature nerd hasn't heard of it and been curious? I found reading it a hilarious journey into the history of popular fiction. It was, really, the "Twilight" of it's day, the must-read that would send young girls off into raptures (as evidenced in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey) complete with a stunningly beautiful and virtuous heroine who is adored by all men who set eyes on her, though she seems to split her time three ways between weeping, going into raptures over scenery, and fainting. Her love interest, Valancourt (yes, Valancourt) weeps almost as much as she does, and goes into raptures over scenery, but his masculinity apparently prevents him from fainting, though I think not wearing a corset might be a contributing factor. Altogether a highly enjoyable read, though not necessarily for the reasons the author intended, I would recommend "Udolpho" to anyone interested in the roots of popular fiction.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    Don't get me wrong, classic books are great (I love To Kill A Mockingbird and Anne of Green Gables for instance) but the trouble with classic books is that some of them are highly acclaimed just because they've been categorized as being classic, and it's expected that any book lover would fall in love with a classic novel because it's earned its respect. However, books are subject to their readers, and can't be judged by reviews or by what other people say, because some books that the world gene Don't get me wrong, classic books are great (I love To Kill A Mockingbird and Anne of Green Gables for instance) but the trouble with classic books is that some of them are highly acclaimed just because they've been categorized as being classic, and it's expected that any book lover would fall in love with a classic novel because it's earned its respect. However, books are subject to their readers, and can't be judged by reviews or by what other people say, because some books that the world generally hates still have die-hard fans and some books loved by the world have people who despise them. That's the case with this one here - it's listed as a classic, and has supposedly earned it, but I found it to be a mess of bad grammar, a boring story and impersonal characters. I'm not saying my opinion is the correct one, but it's still my viewpoint. This book isn't terrible, but I don't see it as one that in hindsight I'd ever read again.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    I have wanted to read the Mysteries of Udolpho for many years now, since I read Northanger Abbey in college and my professor continuously refered to 'The veil, the black veil!' Having just purchased my Kindle, I was able to find a copy of Udolpho and read it for free. I am exceedingly glad I did. I have read many Victorian and Edwardian short stories based on horror and ghosts, and I was simply under the impression that with a few select exceptions (The Pit and the Pendellum) the older a book is, I have wanted to read the Mysteries of Udolpho for many years now, since I read Northanger Abbey in college and my professor continuously refered to 'The veil, the black veil!' Having just purchased my Kindle, I was able to find a copy of Udolpho and read it for free. I am exceedingly glad I did. I have read many Victorian and Edwardian short stories based on horror and ghosts, and I was simply under the impression that with a few select exceptions (The Pit and the Pendellum) the older a book is, the less 'scary' it is. Udolpho has proved me wrong! While I didn't care much for the main character Emily - she was far too obedient to the laws of society and morality - I found her to be in situations that, had I been in the same ones, may very well have fainted myself! Following trails of blood up the castle steps in the dark of night; chased through the castle by drunken bandits; and what oh what is beneath the black veil?! I also greatly enjoyed the plot twists. Again, having read the likes of Evelina, Pamela and others, I had assumed that this story would follow a simple storyline - and end happily ever after. I also imagined that it would be fairly transparent. Indeed, throughout the entire book I was sure I had all of the mysteries (and there are quite a few, some scandalous!) figured out. And then, when all is revealed, I physically gasped while reading this on the train! This is probably one of the best books as far as plot goes that I have read in my life. Characters are a little weak (seriously I would have shot Valencourt if I could have) but the veil, the ghostly spectre on the ramparts, the banditti! They all rocketed this book to the top of my all-time favorites list.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    If anyone i know says they hate this book i certainly wouldn't reprove them. This is a book which really needs the reader to embrace it and accept it for what it is. The entire first quarter of this story is pretty much nothing but staring at scenery and weeping. I tried to embrace it and read it at its own languid pace but even so my eyes did occasionally glaze over. However even near the start there are those odd mysteries which keep it interesting. Later theres a lot of superstitious scares a If anyone i know says they hate this book i certainly wouldn't reprove them. This is a book which really needs the reader to embrace it and accept it for what it is. The entire first quarter of this story is pretty much nothing but staring at scenery and weeping. I tried to embrace it and read it at its own languid pace but even so my eyes did occasionally glaze over. However even near the start there are those odd mysteries which keep it interesting. Later theres a lot of superstitious scares and fainting too, which isn't really that surprising given that the heroine never seems to go to sleep until about 4am and often not until the sun comes up, seriously she's practically a vampire! :lol Whatever the word Gothic means to you this story has it in spades. It is still quite well written and i flew through the last 150 pages or so as it got really compelling. One thing i especially liked is that it never tried to convince the READER that an event was supernatural, that was always only the flawed view of the characters. Sometimes the reader is even given more information than the characters have, so we can detach ourselves a little from their situation. This is quite a long book so if it has things you like(or dislike) it will have a lot of them. (i'll just play it cool about using reprove in a sentence, go me! :) ).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Clásico de la literatura gótica en el que la ambientación es tanto o casi más importante que la propia trama. De ritmo muy pausado y con algunas reacciones de los personajes que hay que meterse en la época en que fue escrito para llegar a entenderlo de lo contrario puede llegar a ser exasperante. Recomendable leerlo pausadamente y estando acostumbrado a leer clásicos, tiene partes bastante densas.

  30. 5 out of 5

    K.

    After reading "Northanger Abbey" and seeing this on my shelf I decided to pick it up (one doesn't always like to pick up enormous gothic novels). I wanted to see what it was really all about. Well, I didn't quite have the leisure of Mr. Tilney and I didn't swallow it down in two days with hardly a breath, but it was slightly entertaining and amusing, but probably not in the way the author intended. And it also wasn't exactly what I expected (although, honestly, I don't know exactly what I expect After reading "Northanger Abbey" and seeing this on my shelf I decided to pick it up (one doesn't always like to pick up enormous gothic novels). I wanted to see what it was really all about. Well, I didn't quite have the leisure of Mr. Tilney and I didn't swallow it down in two days with hardly a breath, but it was slightly entertaining and amusing, but probably not in the way the author intended. And it also wasn't exactly what I expected (although, honestly, I don't know exactly what I expected:). Weeping. Wailing. Fainting. Mystery. Misunderstanding. Murders. Much failing of limbs and deep, deep sighs. Too many scary mountainous adventures, thundering along in a carriage along a precipice, banditti, abductions, long, dark, damp, castle corridors and staircases besmirched with blood, midnight visiting, smirking, oogling men, insipid, terrified women, disappointed lovers, mysterious midnight music, crappy poetry. Is it constantly in thunder and lightning in the mountains near Tuscany? And the list goes on, this book has it all. And more. Seriously, there's probably 300 pages worth of travels depicting the scenery, which must have been gorgeous, but it was over done. Okay, so what, if anything, was good about this book? What makes it different than today's best-sellers, if anything? Is it still worth reading? Well, during the first 200 pages or so we hear about Emily's (the heroine) upbringing, education and family life--which was interesting. Her father early saw in her a tendency to be too much affected by outward circumstances (what was then termed "sensibility"--recall Marianne?) and specifically and methodically taught her to react to emotionally trying situations with thought, sense and fortitude--to not let her emotions or passions rule her thoughts, words or actions. I thought that was a valuable little tidbit. She does do a lot of weeping, but I would too if I lost my mother, my father, my lover and my liberty all within about a years time. She does do a lot of fainting, but I would too if I wore a corset :). And maybe that's the difference between literature of that day and ours, today, we just can't see the value of not giving in to every emotion, after all, isn't that displaying our "true selves?" Wouldn't we be hypocrites if we suppressed or delayed reaction to anything? Emily does show quiet grace in caring for an aunt who mistreats her, fortitude and courage towards her captor who repeatedly threatens her life and more. She has learned to recognize and follow the advice of wise elders placed in her path. She does realize the misery that would follow if she married a man unworthy of her "esteem" as she calls it. Another thing about Emily is that she is a devout Christian who believes in God and is always seeing Him in the wonders of nature. Those are the things that would answer my first two questions. As for the last, is it still worth reading, that is an entirely personal choice. I don't think it was the very best book, but if my daughters were obsessed with mystery and romance, I think I'd be likely to suggest that over most modern novels, simply for the character of the heroine, and the fun you can have with it and the style it was written in. I loved that my edition, Oxford's World Classics, left Radcliffe's archaic words and spellings in--that's fun for a word nerd. The footnotes were well done also. I did find myself mighty tired of the melodrama by the end, the story could have been distilled into about 300 pages, while, instead, it's 672 of super-stuffed, small--margin, small-type. One thing I like to reflect on is the age of this kind of writing. Can you imagine writing something this long and drawn out, interspersed with poetry (you know, Emily was always composing or remembering poems when she saw some sublimity of nature). Our times are so different. Ahhh, now I understand Northanger Abbey. :)

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.