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1. The Italian: Or the Confessional
2. The Critical Response to Ann Radcliffe:
3. Ann Radcliffe: A Bio-Bibliography
4. The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne
5. The Italian (Penguin Classics)
6. The Romance of the Forest (Oxford
7. The Mysteries of Udolpho (Oxford
8. Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress
9. Mistress of Udolpho: The Life
10. Ann Radcliffe and Her Influence
11. Ann Radcliffe: The Novel of Suspense
12. The Art of Gothic: Ann Radcliffe's
13. A Study of the Imagery in the
14. Ann Radcliffe's Novels: Experiments
15. Ann Radcliffe and the Gothic Romance:
16. Gothic Strains and Bourgeois Sentiments
17. Ann Radcliffe

1. The Italian: Or the Confessional of the Black Penitents; A Romance (Oxford World's Classics)
by Ann Radcliffe
Paperback: 464 Pages (1998-11-19)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$2.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0192832549
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
`His figure was striking, but not so from grace ... and as he stalked along, wrapt in the black garments of his order, there was something terrible in its air; something almost super-human.'First published in 1797, The Italian is one of the finest examples of Gothic romance.The fast-paced, narrative centres on Ann Radcliffe's most brilliant creation, the sinister monk Schedoni, whose past is shrouded in mystery. From the novel's opening chapters the reader is ushered into a shadowy world in which crime and religion are mingled. In the church of Santa Maria del Pianto in Naples, Ellena Rosalba and Vincentio di Vivaldi first meet; but their love is ill-omened.Leagued against them are the proud and ambitious Marchese di Vivaldi and her confessor Father Schedoni. When Ellena vanishes on the death of her guardian, Vivaldi sets out in pursuit of her across the mountainous regions of southern Italy before himself falling prey to the Holy Inquisition. This revised and expanded edition explores the novel in the context of British attitudes to Italy and Roman Catholicism in the late eighteenth century with close attention to the novel's style and form.Download Description
Vincentio di Vivaldi was the only son of the Marchese di Vivaldi, a nobleman of one of the most ancient families of the kingdom of Naples, a favourite possessing an uncommon share of influence at Court, and a man still higher in power than in rank. His pride of birth was equal to either, but it was mingled with the justifiable pride of a principled mind; it governed his conduct in morals as well as in the jealousy of ceremonial distinctions, and elevated his practice as well as his claims. His pride was at once his vice and his virtue, his safeguard and his weakness. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars This Italian, by Ann Radcliffe
This book isa very intelligent and well written book.

5-0 out of 5 stars So Many Turns of Events!
The Italian was Radcliffe's last novel. It is about a nobleman who falls in love with a woman whose identity is unknown to herself and the reader throughout her sufferings. She is oppressed by many people in whose hands she falls as she is snatched away from the nobleman Vivaldi to prevent their marriage. Like all of Radcliffe's heroines, her character is marked by an amazing fortitude despite the horrifying things to which she is frequently subjected. Vivaldi faces the powers of the Inquisition and Radcliffe gives the reader some idea of their dealings with offenders and their ways of making prisoners "confess." There are many turns of events which are delightful until another perilous event disappoints and grieves the reader. This is certainly what most reviewers call a page-turner. The sentiments are by no means modern. For a reader who is looking for modern unrestrained "romance," none of Radcliffe's novels is a good choice. Her stories are for true romantics.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Difficult Read
I found "The Italian" to be less satisfying, more lurid, more obscure, and harder going than "Romance of the Forest."The plot moves slowly and the punctuation of this edition was a definite impediment for me.The decadent qualities, atmosphere of depravity, and character style were intentional, I realize, but I found this book to be mired in its genre, cardboard in character development, and unrewarding.I enjoyed the similar "Uncle Silas" far more.

4-0 out of 5 stars Gothic Romance at its Best
Let it first be said that Lewis's "The Monk" is heavily influenced by Radcliffe.Reading "The Monk" first would throw the reader off the track.This novel is an excellent selection from thegenre of Gothic novel, and is indeed a masterpiece.The Gothic novel had agreat impact on Romanticism, and on the literature of the absurd.Overall,an enjoyable read!

3-0 out of 5 stars The "Queen of the Gothic Novel"
This is one of Radcliffe's two best novels, the other being "TheMysteries of Udolpho". A little excursion into literary history willclear up the confusion of the reviewer who feels that Radcliffe copiedLewis' "The Monk". If any copying was done, it was the other wayaround.At the time Lewis began writing, Radcliffe was the top Gothicnovelist, and one of the most popular authors of any genre.Lewis,himself, stated that he was inspired to write "The Monk" afterreading "Udolpho".(In fact, Radcliffe's mastery of the gothicinfluenced such poets as Byron and Keats, who called her "motherRadcliffe" for her legacy, and many other writers of her day and farbeyond.) Among her major influences were Shakespeare, Milton, and Walpole,who basically founded the gothic novel.But Radcliffe took it to a new andhigher level than Walpole, and Lewis took off from Radcliffe's newelevation, and went in another, though not necessarily higher, direction. Having read both "The Italian" and "The Monk" (mycopies rest amiably next to one another on the shelf), I would say they areBOTH very much worth reading (as is "Udolpho").Reading"Udolpho" first, and then "The Monk", will demonstratehow much Lewis drew his inspiration from the master.Reading "TheItalian" will show that master at once at the peak and, unfortunately,the close of her literary career. ... Read more

2. The Critical Response to Ann Radcliffe: (Critical Responses in Arts and Letters)
Hardcover: 320 Pages (1993-12-30)
list price: US$96.95 -- used & new: US$96.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313280312
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Editorial Review

Book Description
Ann Radcliffe was one of the most influential women writers of the 18th century. Best known as the author of The Italian and The Mysteries of Udolpho, she contributed to the rise of the English novel and the development of the female gothic. This book brings together, for the first time, almost one hundred documents on her work, including contemporary reviews, letters, diary entries, the most important critical assessments, and several new pieces. The volume begins with an extensive introductory essay on Radcliffe's work and the critical reception of it. The chapters that follow consist of chronologically arranged critical analyses of particular works by Radcliffe. Several chapters then present general critical responses to her writings. The book concludes with a bibliography of selected additional readings. ... Read more

3. Ann Radcliffe: A Bio-Bibliography (Bio-Bibliographies in World Literature)
by Deborah D. Rogers
Hardcover: 224 Pages (1996-01-30)
list price: US$78.95 -- used & new: US$98.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313283796
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Editorial Review

Book Description
Ann Radcliffe wrote some of the most electrifying and popular novels of her day. Not only is she one of the most important "Mothers" of the novel, she almost singlehandedly developed the Female Gothic to explore female experience. This form has achieved almost mythical status. This volume is an indispensible guide to the life and work of this pioneering woman novelist. A biography provides new information on Radcliffe from a source that has been virtually ignored, the one substantial extant manuscript, her forty-two leaf commonplace book, which is in deteriorating condition. The remainder of the book is an extensive annotated bibliography of works by Radcliffe and critical studies of her writing. Included are entries for early and modern editions, early reviews, and bibliographic studies. Two chapters are devoted to 20th-century critical studies of Radcliffe, in response to the growing amount of material being written about her. Appendices record her artistic legacy as presented in adaptations, imitations, parodies, and abridgments; and the volume includes a list of works falsely attributed to her. ... Read more

4. The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (Oxford World's Classics)
by Ann Radcliffe
Paperback: 160 Pages (1995-04-13)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$78.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0192823574
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
Ann Radcliffe's first novel is set in the Middle Ages against the melancholy beauty of mountains and rugged coasts of the Scottish Highlands, tells the story of the warring clan chieftains of Athlin and Dunbayne. One of the earliest Gothic tales (1789), it recounts low-born Alleyn's quest for
love and honour, and alternates scenes of passionate feeling with breakneck pursuits. The castle itself, in all its romantic sublimity, becomes the true focal point of the novel.Long out of print, this edition makes a little-known treasure available to modern readers.Download Description
Anxious to inform the Baroness of his approaching deliverance, to assure her of his best services, to bid adieu to Laura, and to seize the last opportunity he might ever possess of disclosing to her his admiration and his love, the Earl revisited the apartments of the Baroness. She felt a lively pleasure on the prospect of his escape; and Laura, in the joy which animated her on hearing this intelligence, forgot the sorrows of her own situation; forgot that of which her heart soon reminded her--that Osbert was leaving the place of her confinement, and that she should probably see him no more. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Early Romance
This book is one of the earliest examples of the romantic novel. The plot was original for its time, though certainly nothing new today.It is completely predictable.Nevertheless, it is interesting as a study of English literature and the development of the novel. This was Radcliffe's first novel, and became the model for many of her later works, as well as the works of many other novel writers.
This book is very plot-driven. The characters are flat, and dialogue or character thought is almost completely non existant.The action in the story leads the text. It also contains the typical hero/heroine relationship; the men, in accordance to the time this book was written, do all the fighting and rescuing, while the women sit at home, unable to do anything but worry and faint.

The Earl of Athlin was betrayed and killed by his envious neighbor Malcolm, the Baron of Dunbayne, 12 years ago. Fearing to endanger her people and the lives of her young children, the Earl's wife, Matilda, has kept out of the way of Malcolm, staying near to her castle and holding back the anger of her subjects. After 12 years, the Earl's son, Osbert, is now 19 years old, and can no longer be held back by his mother. In a surprise attack just as cowardly as that of Malcolm upon his father, he attempts to storm Dunbayne Castle without warning or a declaration of war. Unfortunately, for this overconfident and pompous youth, Malcolm saw it coming, and captures the dumb would-be Earl. Malcolm also has a healthy lust for Osbert's sister, Mary, and demands that she marry him in exchange for her brother's life. Most of the book is concerned with the effort to free Osbert from the Baron's clutches. These attempts are mainly made by the peasant Alleyn, whose bravery and martial skills more than make up for his social standing, well, at least in my eyes.

This short novel has all the devices of the Gothic novel, including dark and gloomy castles, depressed characters, and adventure. But one of the things that stood out to me was the class system which wreaks of injustice. Osbert, the supposed hero of the tale, is always looking down on his best friend, Alleyn, even though his life has been saved by him. He's supposed to be this paragon of virtue and yet he does not think he is good enough for his sister. Everyone has the same blood and this is a good reason that the American and French Revolutions took place. To remind us that we are all created equal. The characters all seemed kind of bumbling and if it wasn't for the fact that they find secret doors of escape in every room they're imprisoned in, or the fact that every guard they encounter kneels before their moral superiority, they wouldn't have got very far. They make the gang in Scooby Doo look deep! You can also see some of the solutions to the mysteries of the novel long before Radcliffe reveals them. It was entertaining though, and she was successful in creating mood and atmosphere, but don't look for anything but a comic book plot here.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Good Taste of Radcliffe
Interested in a gothic novel but not quite ready to plunge headfirst into "The Mysteries of Udolpho"? Ann Radcliffe's short novel "The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne", provides the perfect first taste of agothic novel.I first read Radcliffe after reading Austen's"Northanger Abby", which contains refrences to"Udolpho".I instantly became facinated by her work and havesubsequently read most of her novels.Reading Radcliffe is definately anexperience worth trying, and I reccomend "The Castles of Athlin andDunbayne" as an excellent place to start.

One must not judgethe gothic novel with the same standards as any work with more literarymerit.The plots are trite, the devices are overused, the language isoverblown, and the characters are decididly one dimensional.However, thisis what is so great about Radcliffe. All of her work is throughlyentertaining, highly amusing to a modern reader, and a source of excellentnew vocabulary.

"The Castles Of Athlin and Dunbayne"is no exception.It only differs from Radcliffe's other work in twoaspects: it is short (slightly over 100 pages), and it is set in Britian,not mainland Europe. Although it is her first novel and does not achievethe same greatness as later works, such as "Udolpho", it is stillworth reading. The story centers around Mary, a Scottish nobelwoman, andher love affair with the low-born, but ever honorable Allyn.It containsan astounding number of chases across dark moors, mysterious noises,escapes from dungones, and passionate exchanges of lover's vows for itssmall size.What makes the novel so amusing and enjoyable is Radcliffe'sserious, fervent tone as she earnestly describes the contrived and tritesituations in the novel.

I am quite a fan of Radcliffe and admireher greatly for the prescedent she set in the history of fiction. "TheCastles of Athlin and Dunbayne" is an entertaing read and a wonderfulexample of the gothic novel. ... Read more

5. The Italian (Penguin Classics)
by Ann Radcliffe
Paperback: 544 Pages (2001-02-01)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140437541
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
The haughty, manipulative Marchesa, determined to thwart the romance between her son, the young Neapolitan nobleman Vincentio di Vivaldi, and Elena di Rosalba, has enlisted the help of the villainous, scheming monk, Schedoni. With a livid paleness of face and a melancholy eye, whose brooding presence dominates the novel, Schedoni has become an archetype of Romantic literature. Set in the mid-eighteenth century against the dramatic, lush backdrop of the Bay of Naples, The Italian is a tale of passion, deceit, abduction, and the horrors of the Inquisition.

In one of the most powerful Gothic tales ever written, Mrs. Radcliffe, the unrivalled master of the genre, skillfully combines traditional elements of danger, romance, and the supernatural with her abiding interest in history and considerable ability to paint poetic images of sublime landscape. In the introduction, Robert Miles examines the novel's literary and historical context.Download Description
The haughty, manipulative Marchesa, determined to thwart the romance between her son, the young Neapolitan nobleman Vincentio di Vivaldi, and Elena di Rosalba, has enlisted the help of the villainous, scheming monk, Schedoni. With a livid paleness of face and a melancholy eye, whose brooding presence dominates the novel, Schedoni has become an archetype of Romantic literature. Set in the mid-eighteenth century against the dramatic, lush backdrop of the Bay of Naples, The Italian is a tale of passion, deceit, abduction, and the horrors of the Inquisition.In one of the most powerful Gothic tales ever written, Mrs. Radcliffe, the unrivalled master of the genre, skillfully combines traditional elements of danger, romance, and the supernatural with her abiding interest in history and considerable ability to paint poetic images of sublime landscape. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Goth Lit.
This is the first of Ann Radcliffes novels that I have read...and it wont be the last. I love the trials each character goes through whether they are paired together or seemingly seperated for eternity. The determination of Vivaldi to be with Ellena is amazing. I felt every angle of that from absolute glee to despair. There are a couple of twists that in a way I thought I should have expected (of course due to the type of books and the time period it was written in) but was still pleasantly surprised. Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another beauty by my favourite author......
I have a particular love for Mysteries of Udolpho, but The Italian is another wonderful book. I read it in one day, and couldn't put it down. The only sad part about it, is there is so few books of hers to read!

A must read for gothic literature!

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect!
Timely delivery...and I saved money by buying here than at the campus book store!

3-0 out of 5 stars Your's in the ranks of death
I discovered Ann Radcliffe's 'The Italian', like another reviewer, after having read 'The Monk'. And while I had hoped for another similarly twisting, winding, gothic thriller, this was not the case with 'The Italian'.

The opening pages seem to purport the reveal of the tale of the Black Penitents, as the story opens with a group of travelers seeing a shadowy, diabolical figure lurking in the shadows of a church.

But what follows is more of a tale of 'star-crossed lovers', leaning a bit more toward Romeo and Juliette. Vivaldi, the hero of this tale, pursues the affections of the orphaned Ellena Di Rosalba, much to the chagrin of his mother, the Marchesa Vivaldi. She employs the aide of her confessor, Father Schedoni, to separate the young lovers.

Ellena is spirited away to a convent, which Vivaldi breaks her out of, and here the tale becomes at least a bit more complex, as Vivaldi is subsequently imprisoned for his actions; as Ellena is marked for death in her new surroundings; and the Marchesa struggles to keep them forever apart.

In comparison to 'The Monk', which you find in Amazon's list of 'people who read this book also read' listing...this tale is in no way as dark, gothic, or 'thrilling' a read. Though enjoyable, the story doesn't fit the opening pages and the foreshadowing of the 'diabolical figure' seeking refuge in the church to avoid death, the mysterious 'Black Penitents' named...or any of the intrigue with which the book opens.

Still, in comparison to modern 'thrillers'; this book is paced well, plotted nicely, and comes to a logical conclusion. While I did not find the story I anticipated, it is still worth a read.

5-0 out of 5 stars great classic - gothic romance
I had never heard of Ann Radcliffe until I read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin. Northanger Abbey is a paraody that "makes fun" of the gothic type novels that were popular at that time.Ann Radcliffe and some of her writings are mentioned by name in Northanger Abbey.So...off I went to find out more about Ann and get one her novels.

Ann was really the first gothic writer and set the scene for the other gothic writers that followed her in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Another reviewer accuses her of copying the novel The Monk - but it is actually the opposite. The author of The Monk copied her!

Anyhow...I loved this book! Vivaldi and Ellena fall in love but Vivaldi's mother is against the match because Ellena is not from a "proper" family.The mother and a monk initiate a plot to keep them from marrying each other. I don't want to say much more, because there are so many interesting plot twists that I don't want to give anything away. It is a great story line that keeps you guessing.There is romance, suspense, mystery, intrigue, evil villians, evil plots, creepy landscapes, and more!

It is a long book that took me several weeks to read but was more than worth my time!
... Read more

6. The Romance of the Forest (Oxford World's Classics)
by Ann Radcliffe
Paperback: 432 Pages (1999-06-10)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$5.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0192837133
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
This novel, although not as well-known as Radcliffe's later works, is thought to represent her work at its best.More than just a work of suspense and mystery, it is a work of ideas--a discussion of the contrasts between hedonistic doctrines and a system of education and values.Download Description
He approached, and perceived the Gothic remains of an abbey: it stood on a kind of rude lawn, overshadowed by high and spreading trees, which seemed coeval with the building, and diffused a romantic gloom around. The greater part of the pile appeared to be sinking into ruins, and that, which had withstood the ravages of time, shewed the remaining features of the fabric more awful in decay. The lofty battlements, thickly enwreathed with ivy, were half demolished, and become the residence of birds of prey. Huge fragments of the eastern tower, which was almost demolished, lay scattered amid the high grass, that waved slowly to the breeze. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars Amusement, sometimes mixed with irritation
I had very mixed feelings about this one- the story itself was sometimes very interesting, but there were also some really annoying aspects to it.

For one thing, Adeline (the heroine) is so excruciatingly perfect that sometimes I just wanted to slap her upside the head. She is stunningly beautiful, ridiculously intelligent, and on top of that, she never has anything less than an entirely virtuous motive for any action she takes (or lack thereof). Apparently Mrs. Radcliffe was not aware that pictures of perfection make most people sick and wicked, not sympathetic. On top of this, as another review pointed out, she cries at a drop of a hat. I am myself rather sensitive, but there were times that it got fairly ridiculous.
Another annoyance was that there were several hackneyed plot ideas that really shouldn't have been used- the worst being the tired device of a character suddenly being found to be of noble birth and great fortune near the end. I don't know why this is a popular plot twist, but it seems to add little to the story as a whole.

The third was the overuse of poetry and descriptions of scenery. Having read The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian, I thought I would be prepared for this, but there were times in The Romance of the Forest that I got so fed up that I skipped these parts to get back to the main story. I can understand a little bit here and there, but there were portions that it went on for several pages at a time.

So why have I given it a three, then? Because there were also several things that somewhat redeemed it. Peter, La Motte's servant, was a delightful character, and I thought it was very unfair of Adeline and La Motte (the latter especially) to constantly be belittling him since it wasn't his fault he was not very bright. La Luc was also an endearing character, as were Theodore and Louis. I also liked Madame La Motte because she was more of a mixed character than any of the others- she had both good and bed qualities, unusual in Radcliffe's works.

So all in all, I would say that though there were many frustrations, the novel was not with its charms as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet
The Mysteries of Udolpho is the best of the Radcliffe books, but I give this one 5 stars because it is still a very good read!

4-0 out of 5 stars Romance of the English language......
I didn't love this book with the fervent devotion I love her Mysteries of Udolpho or The Italian, you can tell it was one of her first. Radcliffe's writing improved immensely. I wouldn't start out with this book, read Mysteries of Udolpho first!

I am a die hard fan of Radcliffe's, this is another excellent and grand novel.

3-0 out of 5 stars Ann Radcliff's First Success as Gothic Writer; Has Eerie Charms of Gothic, But Is Not Good Enough
Today Ann Radcliff is known for two thrilling Gothic novels -- 'Mysteries of Udolpho' (1794) and 'The Italian' (1797) -- but her talent was first recognized by 'The Romance of the Forest' (1791).'The Romance' is now obscured by the more famous works, but can still offer some thrills common in the 18th-century Gothic world in its own way.

The narrative of 'Romance' is typically set in Roman Catholic Europe, and we see a family -- La Motte and his wife -- fleeing from Paris for debt.In the middle of the deep forest, La Motte is caught by the banditti (so he thinks).But the latter would not demand money; the ruffian instead brings a young, innocent girl Adeline, and places her under the protection of the family.

The episode above is just a beginning.Next we see La Motte et al. keep on running, until they decide to settle in a remote ruined abbey in France, of which owner Marquis is away from the estate.The deserted abbey provides them a good hiding place until Adeline realizes that something is wrong with the place -- there are a rusty dagger, a faded manuscript, a trap door, strange bahavior of La Motte, who daily vanishes in the woods, etc.And when finally Marquis arrives there in person, she must face another danger, typically Gothic situation for an innocent lady.

If you have read Radcliff, you find in 'Romance of the Forest' her distict touch here and there, which she was to develop in her later works.Besides the trademark tricks of Gothic fiction (which is to be parodied in 'Northanger Abbey'), we see Radcliff's obsession with the "sublime" landscapes, and her heroine is always allowed to escape from the dangers, only to frequently faint later.Lengthy poems are often quoated to express the sentiment of her and the writer, and the identities of some characters are revealed in the final act in order to solve the problems as rewards for the good.

Though Ann Radcliff has shown considerable skills of presenting thrills, the novel gets weaker in the third (and final) book, in which Adeline has virtually nothing to do.One strange thing is (from the viewpoint of us today, I mean) that portions of the third book are devoted to her travel, far from 'The Forest,' partly written as if it is a book of travel literature.And because of the too many characters rather carelessly introduced, the conclusion suffers from the complex (and often confusing) relations between them.So who is this sinister Marquis after all?Like the ending of 'Oliver Twist' the book explains too hastily, and you need to stop and think a while.

Good as it is, generally 'Romance of the Forest' is not regarded as Ann Radcliff's best, and probably it remains so in the future.And it even ceases to be a Gothic novel in the fianl section, in which the heroine, who should be in distress trapped in the distant castle somewhere in the Alps, leaves the dark forest far behind, and is allowed to look at the sunset in the sea and read a poem.or two.So if you want a genuinely Gothic version of Radcliff's novels, you should read 'The Italian' first.

2-0 out of 5 stars Overly Sentimental
This book, which hasdecent plotline and some surprisingly twists and turns, ends up leaving a bitter taste in one's mouth after a while.The main protagonist Adeline cries almost every page she is one(not an exaggeration, she really almost cries on EVERY page).Also, though the coincidences and twists are sometimes very well-done and clever, they are so overused by the finale to become tedious and annoying.You begin to wonder how anyone could marry anyone since EVERYONE in France seems to be someone's long lost cousin or uncle.If you've read any of Edmund Burke's lengthly writings of the sublime, you will see it all over this book and it is about half of the endnotes.It is understandable why this was popular in its day but also will not appeal to a modern audience who will be far more critical of the female's over the top self pity.A great read for those who love the genre and a pain to read for everyone else, read Romance of the Forest only if you're willing to accept more instances of crying than there are pages in the whole book. ... Read more

7. The Mysteries of Udolpho (Oxford World's Classics)
by Ann Radcliffe
Paperback: 736 Pages (1998-09-10)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0192825232
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Book Description
`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. Rreflections brought only regret, and anticipation terror.' Such is the state of mind in which Emily St. Aubuert - the orphaned heroine of Ann Radcliffe's 1794 gothic Classic, The Mysteries of Udolpho - finds herself after Count Montoni, her evil guardian, imprisions her in his gloomy medieval fortress in the Appenines.Terror is the order of the day inside the walls of Udolpho, as Emily struggles against Montoni's rapacious schemes and the threat of her own psychological disintegration. A best-seller in its day and a potent influence on Walpole, Poe, and other writers of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic horror, The Mysteries of Udolpho remains one of the most important works in the history of European fiction. As the same time, with its dream-like plot and hallucinatory rendering of its characters' psychological states, it often seems strangely modern: `permanently avant-garde' in Terry Castle's words, and a profound and fascinating challenge to contemporary readers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

4-0 out of 5 stars Like a long and complex dream ...
After having read the mere 176-page original gothic tale of 1764, Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto", I embarked on this 672-page equally-famous gothic fantasy by Ann Radcliffe, published thirty years later, and a best-selling literary phenomenon of its day.

The opening of Terry Castle's incisive introduction to the work notes that, "Perhaps no work in the history of English fiction has been more often caricatured." It is supposed to be "the greatest (or at least the most famous) of gothic romances ... has an archetypal `gothic villain' ... is loaded with exotic scenery ... [and] its heroine, a victim of `sensibility', faints a lot." But whilst common opinion may see it as "a bit of a `silly' book too", the conscientious reader must actually "feel a twinge of bad faith"; Udolpho is actually "bigger, baggier and more uncanny than one thought it was." This is so true.

Whilst not denying a strong gothic element in the writing, the book is also a travelogue, a morality tale, a commentary on manners, and even a comedy of errors; just like Shakespeare, the servants provide a focus for humour, and Radcliffe is not even averse to parody herself as well as the tale she tells. Indeed, one can even view the novel as a typical Jane Austen romance - a woman, her marriage options, and the descent of landed property feature heavily in the plot - but this time set on the continent and in a gothic milieu; Jane Austen even drew on some of the scenes for her `Northanger Abbey' of 1818. But Terry Castle draws attention to the title of the novel, namely the `mysteries' of Udolpho. Thus one can add to the long list of genres set out above, even that of an Agatha Christie murder-mystery, a product of the new age of enlightenment when old-style superstitious mystery was replaced by its more reasoned newcomer, although "Radcliffe's supposedly `rational' explanations are at times almost more implausible than the supernatural explanations they are meant to displace."

Whilst the consensus about the book's merits might be overwhelmingly negative - "too long, feeble in characterisation ... lacking in moral or intellectual gravitas ... [and] full of absurdities" - a closer examination reveals "a meticulous stylist ... who can create moments of considerable drama". Indeed, the style of writing is worthy of remark. The book is full of long sentences, often beautifully constructed. The book must be read at a stately pace to accord with the natural breath of the author's rhythm. Did she speak in this way, or are the construction of sentences designed so as to be read aloud within family groups as they sat before the fire on cold, dark, late-eighteenth century evenings? This style can lead to artifice, and the excessive number of commas can be exasperating on occasions.

There are whole chapters of descriptive prose about the sublime effects of the natural landscape. These are of more value than mere curiosity; the author writes very well with a sharp eye for detail. Terry Castle sagely compares her prose in this regard to the landscapes paintings of Salvatore Rosa, Poussin and Claude Lorraine that Radcliffe admired. This is all the more amazing, as she never visited the places she describes in such detail, but sees them through the eyes of fancy. Actually, she saw them through the eyes of the likes of Tobias Smollett and Hester Thrale Piozzi whose travel books she greatly relied upon. Geographically, the novel forms an arc: volume one is set in Gascony and Languedoc; volume two in Venice and Udolpho; volume three in Udolpho and Tuscany; and volume four back in Gascony and Languedoc.

Ostensibly set in the year 1584, the book is imbued with the manners and sensibilities of genteel England of 1794. For this reason, I found it convenient to forego imagining a strict rendition of time and place. Whilst the number of precise factual anachronisms is small, they are nevertheless difficult to ignore; they include such items as coffee drinking, the names of English poets, the use of knives and forks, the wearing by ladies of certain hats, and the naming of rooms as `saloons'. Moreover, the description afforded to the city of Venice is more akin to the 1780s, or what Terry Castle in her introduction describes as "the elegant Venice of Canaletto and Goldoni", rather than that of the 1580s and the city of Tintoretto and Monteverdi.

There is very little character development. Indeed, there is very little character at all, since the novel revolves almost entirely around our heroine Emily. People come into her life and then leave only when they have some part to play in Emily's story. Even her dog, who appears to be her constant companion in all her travels, appears a mere two or three occasions in order to heighten tension or play a minor part in Emily's experiences: on his second appearance, as our heroine seeks to escape from the castle in which she is held, the dog's yapping threatens to disclose her position, but I had by then even forgotten the dog's very existence, so notably absent had his presence become.

So, what is this novel to be? A gothic romance? Travelogue? Morality tale? Commentary on manners or comedy of errors? Or enlightenment mystery? Why, all of the above, of course. But in a twist of blazing insight, perhaps Terry Castle is right to recommend this book for 21st century readers as a precursor of Freud's work on the unconscious, for "like a long and complex dream - the kind in which pleasure and apprehension are so closely intermingled as to become indistinguishable - the book repays imaginative introspection." When Radcliffe writes halfway through her novel that, the heroine "blamed herself for suffering her romantic imagination to carry her so far beyond the bounds of probability, and determined to endeavour to check its rapid flights, lest they should sometimes extend into madness", she is warning the incautious reader too.

The usual high standards of the Oxford University Press's World's Classics editions are upheld in this volume. Not only the introduction, but also the standard textual note, select bibliography, chronology and end-notes all appear to guide and enhance the experience. As with all reprints of classic works of literature, I recommend that the so-called introduction (which is really more of a commentary) is best read after the novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Mysteries of Udolpho: real and imagined
On one level, this novel defies categorisation.Yes, the Gothic web of mystery and intrigue is obvious.And so too are the beautiful descriptions of nature, the struggle between good and evil, the noble acts of heroism and the ignoble acts of greed.

Anne Radcliffe has taken all of these components and distilled an imaginative creation that still, some 213 years after publication, catches the imagination of the reader.If you do choose to read this glorious novel, make sure that you are prepared for a pace which relies more on descriptive prose and less on implied actions. Set aside the time to immerse yourself in the setting and enjoy the journey.

This is not a novel to be rushed, it is a novel to be savoured.

Ann Radcliffe was 30 years old the year this novel was published.What an accomplished and imaginative young woman she must have been.

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

4-0 out of 5 stars pleasantly surprised
I read this because of a reference in one of Jane Austen's novels. I never thought I'd like it as much as I did. The beginning does seem boring and overdrawn, but I'm glad I continued to read because this book is a gem. There is continuous action, intriguing coincidences, and a sweet love story besides. If you have any interest in Gothic novels or love stories you will like this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Radcliffe: The Magic Still Works
THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO by Ann Radcliffe is an important transition work between an age that prized reason over emotion and a succeeding age that believed in the reverse. Radcliffe's book is not much read today and that is a shame since the feelings of dread that it raised at the end the 18th century can still be felt by contemporary readers. This book is a Gothic thriller, the literary ancestor of Austen's NORTHANGER ABBEY, of Poe's Tales of Terror, and of today just about anything by Steven King.

When THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO was first published in 1794, the Age of Reason was slowly coming to a creaking end. An English populace that was becoming increasingly mercantile and literate was growing tired of a relentless urging to approach life with the clinical detachment of Star Trek's Mr. Spock. They began to demand a literature that in the words of Jane Austen would provide a sensibility over sense. The initial glimmerings of this discontent were met by the writers of sensibility who insisted that their heroines, usually well-born females, would swoon, cry, and weep at the drop of a hat. Radcliffe carried this to the next logical level. She was one of the first writers of the Gothic genre. Here, the female swooner of the novel of sensibility would place herself in a gloomy castle with creaking doors, clanking chains, and secret rooms of a mad monk who would hold her captive for reasons that were then only delicately hinted at as sensual but today we recognize as pretty weird psycho-sexual matters.

The plot of THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO is a hook upon which Radcliffe wrote a harrowing tale that was an instant best-seller. Young Emily St. Aubert and her mother are made prisoners in the castle of the evil Italian Montoni, who married her mother solely to inherit her money and then killed her and planned to force her to marry another. The English reading public flocked to buy this novel because of its novel use of the fear that was engendered by the very thought of a proper English lady being imprisoned in a creepy and sinister castle by a mad Italian. They were further intrigued by the lavish descriptions of natural scenery, all of which were larded with a sense of panorama that was lacking in their restricted lives. Finally, when Emily had her startling dreams, Radcliffe's readers responded to their subtle sexual symbolism that they found endlessly intriguing.

THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO has its faults that seem more egregious to modern audiences. Her style varies little from chapter to chapter. Her use of scenery as an overused prop can pall. Finally, Radcliffe has been accused with some accuracy as selling a sizzle without the steak in that at the story's end, she has contrived a perfectly natural and rational explanation for each of the book's spooky events. Still, the power of the tale to drag the reader into the deepest recesses of a dark and dank cage that is matched only by the equally grim recesses of the human mind is yet quite sufficient to raise the hackles on the back of that reader's neck.Only the best scary books can continue to do that century after century.

2-0 out of 5 stars well written but dull, dull, dull
The Mysteries of Udolpho is beautifully written.Ann Radcliffe writes page after page, after page...of picturesque descriptions of Italy and France's countryside.
That being said, I found The Mysteries of Udolpho to be long winded and drawn out.The first two volumes are rather mind-numbing and I skimmed over much of it.I never felt a connection towards Emily and felt rather indifferent towards her well being.I found her to be rather insipid and became tired of her constant fits of weeping and fainting.Her servant, Annette, was more intriguing than Emily and her pathetic weakness.
I would personally recommend skipping The Mysteries of Udolpho to read Sheridan Le Fanu's novel Uncle Silas.Young Maud finds herself in similiar circumstances but approaches them with not only grace and sweetnss but a strength that she "finds from a place unknown" to herself.You will cheer for Maud in a way that seems impossible to do for Emily. ... Read more

8. Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress
by Robert Miles
 Hardcover: 208 Pages (1995-09)
list price: US$79.95
Isbn: 0719038286
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9. Mistress of Udolpho: The Life of Ann Radcliffe
by Rictor Norton
Paperback: 307 Pages (1999-06)
list price: US$60.00 -- used & new: US$51.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0718502027
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars If you are a Radcliffe lover....
Or even just love the early Gothic genre then this book is a MUST READ!

So little was ever known or written about Radcliffe but Norton does a spectacular job of digging and unearthing some fascinating and wonderful facts, tidbits and surmises. Since not a lot was known on Radcliffe he follows a lot of conclusions on her upbringing, life, marriage and writing toa very crystal clear logical conclusion.

He writes extensively on her novels and the influences that she read and saw (plays etc.)that formed her glowing genius with the pen. Different theories of the sublime, terror, horror....the picturesqe that she obviously had read and applied.

This is one of those very specific biographies. It's read because you are one of the many enchanted followers of her magic pen. If you adore Radcliffe and thrill at her turn of phrase and the deeply nostaglic past she dredges up in her pages than this biography by Norton is absolutely indispenible to you. You will come away with something having learning a great deal on her, her times, her influences, the long reaching influence of her novels, as well as some tidbits of not so important but engaging nevertheless facts. ... Read more

10. Ann Radcliffe and Her Influence on Later Writers (Gothic Studies and Dissertations)
by J. M. S. Tompkins
 Hardcover: 162 Pages (1980-06)
list price: US$28.95 -- used & new: US$28.95
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Asin: 0405126816
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11. Ann Radcliffe: The Novel of Suspense and Terror (Gothic Studies and Dissertations Series)
by John A. Stolr
 Hardcover: 242 Pages (1980-06)
list price: US$31.95 -- used & new: US$31.95
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Asin: 0405126700
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12. The Art of Gothic: Ann Radcliffe's Major Novels (Gothic Studies and Dissertations)
by Nelson C. Smith
 Hardcover: 215 Pages (1980-08)
list price: US$28.95 -- used & new: US$28.95
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Asin: 0405126808
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13. A Study of the Imagery in the Gothic Romances of Ann Radcliffe ((Gothic Studies & Dissertations))
by Ford H. Swigart
 Hardcover: 2 Pages (1980-09)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$23.95
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Asin: 0405126638
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14. Ann Radcliffe's Novels: Experiments in Setting (Gothic Studies and Dissertations)
by David S. Durant
 Hardcover: 218 Pages (1980-08)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$26.95
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Asin: 0405126654
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15. Ann Radcliffe and the Gothic Romance: A Psychoanalytic Approach (Gothic Studies and Dissertations Series)
by Leona F. Sherman
 Hardcover: 221 Pages (1980-08)
list price: US$28.95 -- used & new: US$28.95
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Asin: 0405126794
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16. Gothic Strains and Bourgeois Sentiments in the Novels of Mrs. Ann Radcliffe and Her Imitators (Gothic Studies and Dissertations)
by John Garrett
 Hardcover: 445 Pages (1980-06)
list price: US$50.95 -- used & new: US$50.95
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Asin: 0405126689
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17. Ann Radcliffe
by Eugene Bernard Murray
 Textbook Binding: Pages (1972-10)
list price: US$14.95
Isbn: 0805714561
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