The Mysteries of Udolpho

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Learn More in these related Britannica articles: Her next work, The Mysteries of Udolpho , by which she became the most popular novelist in England, tells how the orphaned Emily St. Aubert is subjected to cruelties by guardians, threatened with the loss of her fortune, and imprisoned in castles but is finally freed and united…. A more sensational type of Gothic romance exploiting horror and violence flourished in Germany and was introduced to England by Matthew Gregory Lewis with The Monk Apennine Range , series of mountain ranges bordered by narrow coastlands that form the physical backbone of peninsular Italy.

From Cadibona Pass in the northwest, close to the Maritime Alps, they form a great arc, which extends as far as the Egadi Islands to the…. English literature, the body of written works produced in the English language by inhabitants of the British Isles including Ireland from the 7th century to the present day. The major literatures written in English outside the British Isles are treated separately under American literature,…. Ann Radcliffe, the most representative of English Gothic novelists. She stands apart in her ability to infuse scenes of terror and suspense with an aura of romantic sensibility.

In , at the age of 23, she married…. Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback. The Mysteries of Udolpho. You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered. Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources. At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context.

Internet URLs are the best. Thank You for Your Contribution! There was a problem with your submission. 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: 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. 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. View all 46 comments.

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. Her aunt, the sister of her father, reluctantly takes her in. Her aunt is, well, difficult. 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…. 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. He plans to marry her to one of his friends Count Morano. 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. More needs she the divine, than the physician.

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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. He is feral in his desire for self-preservation.

He sneers at the weak and feels justified in his criminal behavior. 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. 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.

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.

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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. 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: View all 32 comments. Jun 07, Henry Avila rated it really liked it.

Aubert, has it all, loving parents, a nice, little, charming estate, she lives on, in southern France, Anno Domini 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. 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. 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.

View all 13 comments. Apr 25, Michael rated it really liked it Shelves: 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.

View all 17 comments. Northanger Abbey fans only. Not because it is a great book it really wasn't but because they will look at their proofreaders, copy editors and beta readers with a whole new appreciation! The imaginative descriptions of the scenery were lovely - it's just there was so much of it. The book's worst fault was that some of the most important actions view spoiler [ for example, the death of The Villain hide spoiler ] happened off page.

An important read for Northanger Abbey fans - but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone else. View all 12 comments. Dec 27, Sara rated it really liked it Shelves: 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. 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. Perhaps knowing it was the first time made these stereotypes a little more palatable. 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.

View all 18 comments. Sep 30, Alex rated it it was ok Shelves: You might be reading a lame book if you have this thought: Mysteries of Udolpho is the second classic Gothic novel, the first being Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto , 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: Or watching Scooby Doo. 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: Here's a painting by her favorite guy, Claude Lorrain: Two stars because that one sentence I quoted above is fucking amazing; no more stars because most of the suffering was done by me.

This is the second classic Gothic novel, but The Monk is still the first good one. View all 24 comments. Mar 06, Alain Gomez rated it did not like it. I now know what he was talking about when he trashes books of "unusually revolting sentimentality. 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. Now this is not a bad thing in itself.

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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. Give me a break. She throws in her poetry every chance she gets. Her prose is neither creative or inspired. 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. 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.

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. 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.

Jan 01, Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it Shelves: I chose to read this book the same way many other people did. This is a long book, old-fashioned in style naturally, being published in 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 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 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: So I looked her up at Wiki and found 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. 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: 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. View all 4 comments. Fans of early Romantic Gothic fiction. As British literary scholar Bonamy Dobree notes at the outset of his introduction to the Oxford Univ.

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Ward Radcliffe

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 Oxford Univ. 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! 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 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! 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: 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 s, 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, " 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! Jan 04, Char rated it really liked it Shelves: This was an engaging read and is considered to be one of the first gothic novels.

Ann Ward Radcliffe The Mysteries of Udolpho clip1 webm

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. Mar 18, Jane Greensmith rated it really liked it. However, back when it hit the streets for the first time in May of , 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.

Though not really terrifying, it is remarkably readable and I found it extremely fun. 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.

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.

The Mysteries of Udolpho

In thinking about the story, I think Radcliffe did a much better job with her female characters than the male ones. 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: One unexpected aspect of the book is the poetry that Radcliffe inserts throughout the story. Emily is quite good at composing quite lengthy poems, usually when she stumbles upon a particularly gorgeous vista or after a particularly wrenching experience. 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. Feb 17, Liz rated it liked it Shelves: 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.

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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.