The Mysteries of Udolpho

The Mysteries of Udolpho

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Overview

A best-seller in its day and a potent influence on Sade, Poe, and other purveyors of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic horror, The Mysteries of Udolpho remains one of the most important works in the history of European fiction. After Emily St. Aubuert is imprisoned by her evil guardian, Count Montoni, in his gloomy medieval fortress in the Appenines, terror becomes the order of the day. With its dream-like plot and hallucinatory rendering of its characters' psychological states, The Mysteries of Udolpho is a fascinating challenge to contemporary readers.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199537419
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 11/15/2008
Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
Pages: 736
Sales rank: 89,951
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Ann Radcliffe was born in 1764, the daughter of a London tradesman. In 1786 she married William Radcliffe, later the manager of The English Chronicle. She set her first novel, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789), in Scotland, and it received little critical or public attention. Using more exotic locations in Europe, notably the 'sublime' landscapes of the Alps and Pyrenees, she wrote four more novels within ten years: A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolfo (1794) and The Italian (1797), as well as a volume of descriptions of her travels in Holland, Germany and the Lake District.

The success of The Romance of the Forest established Radcliffe as the leading exponent of the historical Gothic Romance. Her later novels met with even greater attention, and produced many imitators (and, famously, Jane Austen's burlesque of The Romance of the Forest in Northanger Abbey), and influenced the work of Sir Walter Scott and Mary Wollstonecraft.

The Italian was the last book she published in her lifetime; a novel, Gaston de Blondeville, and St. Albans Abbey: A Metrical Tale were published posthumously. Despite the sensational nature of her romances and their enormous success, Radcliffe and her husband lived quietly—she made only one foreign journey and barely glimpsed the Alps that she wrote about so vividly. She died in 1823 from respiratory problems probably caused by pneumonia.

Read an Excerpt

The Mysteries of Udolpho


By Ann Radcliffe

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 2014 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-7234-5


CHAPTER 1

Home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where,
Supporting and supported, polish'd friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss.
—Thomson


On the pleasant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Gascony, stood, in the year 1584, the chateau of Monsieur St. Aubert. From its windows were seen the pastoral landscapes of Guienne and Gascony stretching along the river, gay with luxuriant woods and vine, and plantations of olives. To the south, the view was bounded by the majestic Pyrenees, whose summits, veiled in clouds, or exhibiting awful forms, seen, and lost again, as the partial vapours rolled along, were sometimes barren, and gleamed through the blue tinge of air, and sometimes frowned with forests of gloomy pine, that swept downward to their base. These tremendous precipices were contrasted by the soft green of the pastures and woods that hung upon their skirts; among whose flocks, and herds, and simple cottages, the eye, after having scaled the cliffs above, delighted to repose. To the north, and to the east, the plains of Guienne and Languedoc were lost in the mist of distance; on the west, Gascony was bounded by the waters of Biscay.

M. St. Aubert loved to wander, with his wife and daughter, on the margin of the Garonne, and to listen to the music that floated on its waves. He had known life in other forms than those of pastoral simplicity, having mingled in the gay and in the busy scenes of the world; but the flattering portrait of mankind, which his heart had delineated in early youth, his experience had too sorrowfully corrected. Yet, amidst the changing visions of life, his principles remained unshaken, his benevolence unchilled; and he retired from the multitude 'more in PITY than in anger,' to scenes of simple nature, to the pure delights of literature, and to the exercise of domestic virtues.

He was a descendant from the younger branch of an illustrious family, and it was designed, that the deficiency of his patrimonial wealth should be supplied either by a splendid alliance in marriage, or by success in the intrigues of public affairs. But St. Aubert had too nice a sense of honour to fulfil the latter hope, and too small a portion of ambition to sacrifice what he called happiness, to the attainment of wealth. After the death of his father he married a very amiable woman, his equal in birth, and not his superior in fortune. The late Monsieur St. Aubert's liberality, or extravagance, had so much involved his affairs, that his son found it necessary to dispose of a part of the family domain, and, some years after his marriage, he sold it to Monsieur Quesnel, the brother of his wife, and retired to a small estate in Gascony, where conjugal felicity, and parental duties, divided his attention with the treasures of knowledge and the illuminations of genius.

To this spot he had been attached from his infancy. He had often made excursions to it when a boy, and the impressions of delight given to his mind by the homely kindness of the grey-headed peasant, to whom it was intrusted, and whose fruit and cream never failed, had not been obliterated by succeeding circumstances. The green pastures along which he had so often bounded in the exultation of health, and youthful freedom—the woods, under whose refreshing shade he had first indulged that pensive melancholy, which afterwards made a strong feature of his character—the wild walks of the mountains, the river, on whose waves he had floated, and the distant plains, which seemed boundless as his early hopes—were never after remembered by St. Aubert but with enthusiasm and regret. At length he disengaged himself from the world, and retired hither, to realize the wishes of many years.

The building, as it then stood, was merely a summer cottage, rendered interesting to a stranger by its neat simplicity, or the beauty of the surrounding scene; and considerable additions were necessary to make it a comfortable family residence. St. Aubert felt a kind of affection for every part of the fabric, which he remembered in his youth, and would not suffer a stone of it to be removed, so that the new building, adapted to the style of the old one, formed with it only a simple and elegant residence. The taste of Madame St. Aubert was conspicuous in its internal finishing, where the same chaste simplicity was observable in the furniture, and in the few ornaments of the apartments, that characterized the manners of its inhabitants.

The library occupied the west side of the chateau, and was enriched by a collection of the best books in the ancient and modern languages. This room opened upon a grove, which stood on the brow of a gentle declivity, that fell towards the river, and the tall trees gave it a melancholy and pleasing shade; while from the windows the eye caught, beneath the spreading branches, the gay and luxuriant landscape stretching to the west, and overlooked on the left by the bold precipices of the Pyrenees. Adjoining the library was a green-house, stored with scarce and beautiful plants; for one of the amusements of St. Aubert was the study of botany, and among the neighbouring mountains, which afforded a luxurious feast to the mind of the naturalist, he often passed the day in the pursuit of his favourite science. He was sometimes accompanied in these little excursions by Madame St. Aubert, and frequently by his daughter; when, with a small osier basket to receive plants, and another filled with cold refreshments, such as the cabin of the shepherd did not afford, they wandered away among the most romantic and magnificent scenes, nor suffered the charms of Nature's lowly children to abstract them from the observance of her stupendous works. When weary of sauntering among cliffs that seemed scarcely accessible but to the steps of the enthusiast, and where no track appeared on the vegetation, but what the foot of the izard had left; they would seek one of those green recesses, which so beautifully adorn the bosom of these mountains, where, under the shade of the lofty larch, or cedar, they enjoyed their simple repast, made sweeter by the waters of the cool stream, that crept along the turf, and by the breath of wild flowers and aromatic plants, that fringed the rocks, and inlaid the grass.

Adjoining the eastern side of the green-house, looking towards the plains of Languedoc, was a room, which Emily called hers, and which contained her books, her drawings, her musical instruments, with some favourite birds and plants. Here she usually exercised herself in elegant arts, cultivated only because they were congenial to her taste, and in which native genius, assisted by the instructions of Monsieur and Madame St. Aubert, made her an early proficient. The windows of this room were particularly pleasant; they descended to the floor, and, opening upon the little lawn that surrounded the house, the eye was led between groves of almond, palm-trees, flowering-ash, and myrtle, to the distant landscape, where the Garonne wandered.

The peasants of this gay climate were often seen on an evening, when the day's labour was done, dancing in groups on the margin of the river. Their sprightly melodies, debonnaire steps, the fanciful figure of their dances, with the tasteful and capricious manner in which the girls adjusted their simple dress, gave a character to the scene entirely French.

The front of the chateau, which, having a southern aspect, opened upon the grandeur of the mountains, was occupied on the ground floor by a rustic hall, and two excellent sitting rooms. The first floor, for the cottage had no second story, was laid out in bed-chambers, except one apartment that opened to a balcony, and which was generally used for a breakfast-room.

In the surrounding ground, St. Aubert had made very tasteful improvements; yet, such was his attachment to objects he had remembered from his boyish days, that he had in some instances sacrificed taste to sentiment. There were two old larches that shaded the building, and interrupted the prospect; St. Aubert had sometimes declared that he believed he should have been weak enough to have wept at their fall. In addition to these larches he planted a little grove of beech, pine, and mountain-ash. On a lofty terrace, formed by the swelling bank of the river, rose a plantation of orange, lemon, and palm-trees, whose fruit, in the coolness of evening, breathed delicious fragrance. With these were mingled a few trees of other species. Here, under the ample shade of a plane-tree, that spread its majestic canopy towards the river, St. Aubert loved to sit in the fine evenings of summer, with his wife and children, watching, beneath its foliage, the setting sun, the mild splendour of its light fading from the distant landscape, till the shadows of twilight melted its various features into one tint of sober grey. Here, too, he loved to read, and to converse with Madame St. Aubert; or to play with his children, resigning himself to the influence of those sweet affections, which are ever attendant on simplicity and nature. He has often said, while tears of pleasure trembled in his eyes, that these were moments infinitely more delightful than any passed amid the brilliant and tumultuous scenes that are courted by the world. His heart was occupied; it had, what can be so rarely said, no wish for a happiness beyond what it experienced. The consciousness of acting right diffused a serenity over his manners, which nothing else could impart to a man of moral perceptions like his, and which refined his sense of every surrounding blessing.

The deepest shade of twilight did not send him from his favourite plane-tree. He loved the soothing hour, when the last tints of light die away; when the stars, one by one, tremble through aether, and are reflected on the dark mirror of the waters; that hour, which, of all others, inspires the mind with pensive tenderness, and often elevates it to sublime contemplation. When the moon shed her soft rays among the foliage, he still lingered, and his pastoral supper of cream and fruits was often spread beneath it. Then, on the stillness of night, came the song of the nightingale, breathing sweetness, and awakening melancholy.

The first interruptions to the happiness he had known since his retirement, were occasioned by the death of his two sons. He lost them at that age when infantine simplicity is so fascinating; and though, in consideration of Madame St. Aubert's distress, he restrained the expression of his own, and endeavoured to bear it, as he meant, with philosophy, he had, in truth, no philosophy that could render him calm to such losses. One daughter was now his only surviving child; and, while he watched the unfolding of her infant character, with anxious fondness, he endeavoured, with unremitting effort, to counteract those traits in her disposition, which might hereafter lead her from happiness. She had discovered in her early years uncommon delicacy of mind, warm affections, and ready benevolence; but with these was observable a degree of susceptibility too exquisite to admit of lasting peace. As she advanced in youth, this sensibility gave a pensive tone to her spirits, and a softness to her manner, which added grace to beauty, and rendered her a very interesting object to persons of a congenial disposition. But St. Aubert had too much good sense to prefer a charm to a virtue; and had penetration enough to see, that this charm was too dangerous to its possessor to be allowed the character of a blessing. He endeavoured, therefore, to strengthen her mind; to enure her to habits of self-command; to teach her to reject the first impulse of her feelings, and to look, with cool examination, upon the disappointments he sometimes threw in her way. While he instructed her to resist first impressions, and to acquire that steady dignity of mind, that can alone counterbalance the passions, and bear us, as far as is compatible with our nature, above the reach of circumstances, he taught himself a lesson of fortitude; for he was often obliged to witness, with seeming indifference, the tears and struggles which his caution occasioned her.

In person, Emily resembled her mother; having the same elegant symmetry of form, the same delicacy of features, and the same blue eyes, full of tender sweetness. But, lovely as was her person, it was the varied expression of her countenance, as conversation awakened the nicer emotions of her mind, that threw such a captivating grace around her:

Those tend'rer tints, that shun the careless eye,
And, in the world's contagious circle, die.


St. Aubert cultivated her understanding with the most scrupulous care. He gave her a general view of the sciences, and an exact acquaintance with every part of elegant literature. He taught her Latin and English, chiefly that she might understand the sublimity of their best poets. She discovered in her early years a taste for works of genius; and it was St. Aubert's principle, as well as his inclination, to promote every innocent means of happiness. 'A well-informed mind,' he would say, 'is the best security against the contagion of folly and of 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. Thought, and cultivation, are necessary equally to the happiness of a country and a city life; in the first they prevent the uneasy sensations of indolence, and afford a sublime pleasure in the taste they create for the beautiful, and the grand; in the latter, they make dissipation less an object of necessity, and consequently of interest.'

It was one of Emily's earliest pleasures to ramble among the scenes of nature; nor was it in the soft and glowing landscape that she most delighted; she loved more the wild wood-walks, that skirted the mountain; and still more the mountain's stupendous recesses, where the silence and grandeur of solitude impressed a sacred awe upon her heart, and lifted her thoughts to the God of Heaven and Earth. In scenes like these she would often linger along, wrapt in a melancholy charm, till the last gleam of day faded from the west; till the lonely sound of a sheep-bell, or the distant bark of a watch-dog, were all that broke on the stillness of the evening. Then, the gloom of the woods; the trembling of their leaves, at intervals, in the breeze; the bat, flitting on the twilight; the cottage-lights, now seen, and now lost—were circumstances that awakened her mind into effort, and led to enthusiasm and poetry.

Her favourite walk was to a little fishing-house, belonging to St. Aubert, in a woody glen, on the margin of a rivulet that descended from the Pyrenees, and, after foaming among their rocks, wound its silent way beneath the shades it reflected. Above the woods, that screened this glen, rose the lofty summits of the Pyrenees, which often burst boldly on the eye through the glades below. Sometimes the shattered face of a rock only was seen, crowned with wild shrubs; or a shepherd's cabin seated on a cliff, overshadowed by dark cypress, or waving ash. Emerging from the deep recesses of the woods, the glade opened to the distant landscape, where the rich pastures and vine- covered slopes of Gascony gradually declined to the plains; and there, on the winding shores of the Garonne, groves, and hamlets, and villas—their outlines softened by distance, melted from the eye into one rich harmonious tint.

This, too, was the favourite retreat of St. Aubert, to which he frequently withdrew from the fervour of noon, with his wife, his daughter, and his books; or came at the sweet evening hour to welcome the silent dusk, or to listen for the music of the nightingale. Sometimes, too, he brought music of his own, and awakened every fairy echo with the tender accents of his oboe; and often have the tones of Emily's voice drawn sweetness from the waves, over which they trembled.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. Copyright © 2014 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii(20)
Note on the Text xxvii(1)
Select Bibliography xxviii(4)
A Chronology of Ann Radcliffe xxxii
THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO
1(672)
Explanatory Notes 673

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The Mysteries of Udolpho 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would greatly recommend The Mysterys of Udalpho, by Ann Radcliffe, to any adult or young adult who loves a suspenseful plot with an added bonus of romance. The Mysterys of Udalpho tells the classic story of good versus evil. The book¿s focus is on a young orphaned heroine, Emily St Aubert. Radcliffe does a brilliant job in showing Emily¿s growth physiologically as well as psychologically throughout the book. Emily is held a prisoner at the castle of Udalpho, where it is hard for her to tell reality from fantasy. The constant twists in the plot keep you on the edge of your seat as you are reading. The intricate plot comes together well with an exceptional ending that has you smiling and shaking your head in disbelief.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm still envolved in the book at the moment. And, despite a slow start, it quickly got me interested and now I am captivated by it. I find myself even shouting out exclamations for the characters like one does in a movie theater when the actors start walking towards the weird light and the creepy music starts playing. I can't wait to find out what happens next!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book started out slow, but once I got into it there was no putting the book down. There are so many mysteries throughout the book that it only adds to the intrigue. The author does well in answering all of the questions you form while reading the book. It was a great romance with adventure. I would recommend this book to any serious reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first heard about this book when I was reading Jane Austen's 'Northanger Abbey'. It made this book sound so interesting I just had to read it. I am only 14, but it is one of the greatest books I have ever read. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amazing book that kept me hooked all the way to the end. I fell in love with these characters. This book goes through all the emotions! It's great!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome read. It does start out very slow but it's worth sticking to it. It is full of adventures and mysteries. Quite fabulous.....I definitely want to read more of her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I+really+liked+the+characters+and+their+intertwined+stories.+There+was+suspense+and+excitement+even+though+it+moved+a+little+slow.+I+really+enjoyed+the+read+
kemeki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This work was definitely written in a different time! Parts were a bit slow, which was not what I was expecting. And I wasn't expecting it to be 600+ pages either. The quintessential Gothic novel - it turns out to be true, but if you read it - I recommend just skipping the first volume entirely! And I almost never condone not reading a work in its entirety. It's an interesting work, griping in parts, and I can't wait to re-read Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, I know this will give me new perspective!
RandyStafford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Accomplished, refined, and beautiful, our heroine Emily St. Aubert finds herself orphaned, her finances in doubt, and surrounded by uncaring, vacuous, and social climbing relatives. Refusing to marry her true love Valancourt, she accompanies her aunt to Italy. There, they both become the prisoners of the sinister Count Montoni. His Castle Udolpho has all the stock trappings of the Gothic: the medieval architecture, the heavy tapesteries, the veiled and oddly familiar portraits, requisite secret passages, horrible sights in the dungeons, mysterious apparitions, hinted murders, and ghostly voices. Through it all, Emily finds time to write a fair amount of poetry. (It's not for nothing the novel's subtitle is "A Romance Interspersed with Some Pieces of Poetry".) Radcliffe was one of the most influential Gothic writers, and this 1794 work is generally regarded as her best. Is it worth reading today solely on its own merits? Not quite. Radcliffe's story is too long, her reveries over landscape wearisome. There is a flavor of earnest moral instruction as Emily not only struggles to master her emotions, but Radcliffe, in her contrived solutions to supernatural mysteries, is intent on stamping out the unreasonableness of superstition. Yet, there is not just great sentiment but psychological insight too. And the ending is surprising despite the inevitable familiarity of many of the story's trappings. Matthew Lewis _The Monk_ is much more fun, a distillation of much of Radcliffe's images and tropes into a delightfully lurid and supernatural plot. (To extend Stephen King's metaphor that the first Gothic novel, Horace Walpole's _The Castle of Otranto_ was the genre's Elvis Presley and Lewis' novel its Sex Pistols, one is tempted to say this is its prog rock.) But students of the genre and the novel in general will want to read one of the most popular Gothics and study Radcliffe's technique -- including her somewhat clumsy backstory passages. Finally, it would be a mistake to leave the impression this is just a novel of fear and anxiety. The love between Valancourt and Emily makes this a romance in every sense of the word.
souloftherose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿She saw herself in a castle, inhabited by vice and violence, seated beyond the reach of law and 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.¿Ever since I first read Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, I've wanted to read The Mysteries of Udolpho, the book Northanger's heroine, Catherine Morland, found so fascinating. But, I've spent years putting off reading Radcliffe's most well-known work because I'd heard it's long and boring and because it was published in the 18th century and I wasn't sure I'd be able to understand it; basically I was scared.Then before rereading Northanger Abbey earlier this year I decided I was going to try and read an 18th century gothic novel. I picked The Castle of Otranto by Hugh Walpole because it was the shortest and surprised myself by quite enjoying it. I decided this meant there might be hope I could read Udolpho and provided myself with the Oxford World¿s Classics edition from the library.I found this book a lot more enjoyable than I expected to. I can understand why people find it boring and silly; there are a lot of passages describing the beautiful scenery of the south of France and Italy where the story is set, Radcliffe writes in very long sentences, the characters will randomly compose poetry which Radcliffe includes in the text and the heroine faints a lot. It took me quite a while to get used to Radcliffe¿s prose and I found I needed to read this book at a much slower pace than usual to appreciate it but once I¿d managed to adjust to this I took a great deal of pleasure in this dreamlike tale.Several aspects of the book surprised me. The first was that the heroine, Emily St Aubert, is a real heroine, not a pathetic girly-girl despite the number of times she faints. Although essentially a demure heroine, Emily¿s struggle against her evil guardian is something she is left to cope with on her own; orphaned, separated from her fiancé, with only a maid who is almost Shakespearean in her loquaciousness to support her, and she is successful in this lone struggle. Yes, in her final escape from the castle she is assisted by a man, but in my eyes, by that point, the battle has already been won. Secondly, one of the things Radcliffe seems to be trying to get across with this book is the idea that self-restraint should be exercised over one¿s emotions rather than giving them free rein. This doesn¿t mean that she thinks emotions are bad, her long descriptions of the scenery are, after all, trying to evoke emotions of awe and wonder in the reader, she does seem concerned that sensibility can be dangerous if encouraged to excess. This made me wonder how much of Jane Austen¿s parody of The Mysteries of Udolpho in Northanger Abbey was at least in part, a parody on the public reaction to Radcliffe¿s book rather than the book itself. If Catherine Morland had read Udolpho more carefully she would have known not to encourage her sensibilities and the embarrassing scene with Henry in his mother¿s room could have been avoided.A note on the Oxford World¿s Classics edition: I found the notes in this edition really very helpful as in addition to explaining any 18th century words or phrases a 21st century reader would be unfamiliar with; they also gave a lot of background to the areas of 18th century philosophy and thinking which Radcliffe was drawing on. The introduction by Terry Castle was also very good but, like most introductions, I wouldn¿t recommend reading it until after you¿ve finished the book.
hemlokgang on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What fun! A long (600+) book, but so much fun. Written in the late 1700s, this book is a sweeping gothic romance, with poetry, sweeping poetic landscapes, a thwarted love affair, evil step-uncles, secrets (some even kept from the reader but known by the protagonist, our dear Emily!), ghosts, castles, Carnivale in Venice......come on, now....who can resist all this? Due to a couple of extraneous tangents in the plot, which I felt were completely unnecessary, I only give out four stars. It was not particularly profound, but boy, oh boy, was it fun?!
amerynth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Give me a book about a troubled orphan, whose fate and fortunes are left in questionable hands and whose love life is in a shambles, and I'm a happy reader.Ann Radcliffe's "The Mysteries of Udolpho" has all that in spades. The unfortunate heroine Emily St. Aubert struggles to keep her emotions in check as she is essentially imprisoned in the Gothic castle of Udolpho by the dastardly Montoni. Cue plenty of weeping and fainting as events unfold at the creepy castle. Going in, you should know that Radcliffe's book is a Gothic romance -- so there are plenty of overwrought scenes and vivid (often delicious) descriptions of the landscape that serve as a precursor to the emotions evoked in the following chapters. Yet, the story itself (especially volumes two and three) is not only compelling, but at times is sublime. I'm told (by a friend who is an English professor) that Udolpho was the Harlequin romance of its day -- all of the famous literati were secretly reading it but unwilling to admit it. I can completely understand why, as the book, written in 1794, is still readable and enjoyable even today.
pj77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Mysteries of Udolpho is a fantastic book for lovers of a great gothic romance. Austen's reference to The Mysteries of Udolpho in Northanger Abbey was intriguing and led me to Radcliffe's work. Her writing is full of beautiful landscape descriptions and her character development in the first half of the novel captivates you. It is a long novel, but it keeps you in suspense until the very end and takes you on a rollercoaster ride throughout the last 100 -150 pages! The romance, gothic castles, horror, intrigue and mystery are everything you could wish for in a novel of this genre. It is a really great read and I recommend it to all.
keristars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very long and sometimes very boring book, but I think it's well worth reading - especially in a group setting! (because it's fun to complain about the long and boring bits with other people, or to laugh at how silly Emily is.) I think the Gothic novel genre is fascinating, and of course Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho is one of the earlier and more well-known examples.Fans of Austen, especially Northanger Abbey, will find that familiarity with Udolpho provides a greater richness to Austen's novels. But more than that, Udolpho gives insight to 18th century thought regarding Deism, Sensibility, Benevolence, patriarchy, feminism &c &c and it comments upon philosophy that came out of the Enlightenment, such as Rousseau's idea that man is naturally good (as compared to Locke's statement that man is naturally wicked).Beyond the academic worth, I still think the Mysteries of Udolpho is fantastic and it is something that I'm glad to have read and will likely find myself reading again in the future.
CollectorOfAshes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Being my first read of the First Lady of Gothic fiction, I can say that I'm a bit underwhelmed. The story has some occasionally excellent descriptions, lots of emotion, and generally moody atmosphere. However, often the descriptions are generic (must every single sea view have sails?) and the characters so overwrought that either they're fainting or they're failing to communicate, and because of this lack of communication, many trials and sorrows result. There's also a lot of deus-ex-machina going on which leaches away the gothic atmosphere. Must everything be of human origin that at first seems supernatural? Radcliffe seems to think so. However, with all that said, I learned a few new words and the story had enough complexity and emotion to propel me towards its close. Strangely, there's also quite a bit of profane oaths which generally reflect the syncrenistic view of Christianity the author possesses -- that is, having a form of godliness but denying its true power, and that is most disappointing of all.
otterlake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First came across a reference to this book in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. A lot of fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED THIS COVER! THIS IS not ABOUT THE BOOK itself but unfortunately the print in this edition is SO miniscule I, a young person with perfect vision, got a headache straining my eyes to read the print. So unfortunate but such a good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Google's digitaization of this classic is at times impossible to decipher the original word. With numbers and various puncuations thrown in place of letters the text finds itself struggling to convey the intended meaning. To truly enjoy this tale look for a better digital copy.
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BethanyAL More than 1 year ago
Radcliffe illustrates every scene so thoroughly that the reader experiences all the same fear, empathy, and intrigue as the beautiful Emily. This heroine is remarkably selfless and her moral convictions and discipline are inspiring. The only tedious parts of the book, for me, were some of her descriptions of the landscapes which were quite loquacious, though I imagine I would have enjoyed them more were I not so anxious for the next action scene. This curious impatience is probably more to her credit than otherwise. Overall the book is sweet, intriguing and terrifying. I could not read it when at home alone...or at night...or really any other time that is else wise conducive to hearing bumps in the night! : )
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