The Mysteries of Udolpho

The Mysteries of Udolpho

Book - 1998
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`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 dayinside 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 hallucinatoryrendering 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.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Edition: New ed.
ISBN: 9780192825230
0192825232
Characteristics: xxxiii, 693 pages ; 20 cm.

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lorhu
Sep 07, 2019

I picked out this book from Northanger Abbey. I considered it a recommendation from Jane Austen herself. I don't think I ever read a book where my mind wandered so much. I thought Udolpho was a guy until it was mentioned three quarters of the way through. Too much descriptive prose. I don't care for poetry either. I wouldn't recommend it

l
Letsgo83
Dec 20, 2018

I read this book because of reading Northanger Abby and it's mention in that book. Udolpho was difficult in the beginning, but ended up being thoroughly enjoyable to the extent that I had a heard time putting it down. I loved the challenge of learning unfamiliar words - I kept a dictionary close by. Emily does an excessive amount of crying and fainting and Valancount begs and pleads for her love like a baby - I favored DuPont at the end. It's like ice cream with zero calories - a fun and entertaining read and yet quietly educational.

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lukasevansherman
Nov 05, 2018

"Horror occupied her mind, and excluded, for a time, all sense of past, and dread of future misfortune."
Along with Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto" and Lewis's "The Monk," Ann Radcliffe's 1794 novel is a founding novel of Gothic lit. Running nearly 700 pages in the Oxford edition, this is a sometimes engaging, often long-winded, not terribly exciting novel whose appeal will probably not be much outside of lit major, current and former. If you're interested in the Gothic and the Romantic, it checks a lot of boxes (exotic foreign setting, evil aristocrats, mysterious going ons, an innocent heroine, a love of nature) and it will help you appreciate Austen's "Northanger Abbey," which parodied the genre. Radcliffe's other major novel is "The Italian."

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Eosos
Jan 29, 2017

I rather surprised myself when I ended up enjoying this book. As far as I could tell it was going to be everything I hated; too much description, twelve words when one would do and a rather pathetic heroine. Which of course might make you wonder why I even bothered to pick it up.....the main reason was that it's mentioned in Northanger Abbey and also it's a classic of its gothic genre. And yes, it's highly descriptive and way too wordy, though the heroine wasn't quite as feeble as I was envisioning, despite the multiple fainting episodes. But I got caught up in the story, I wanted to know who would survive and how the rescue would happen and what would happen to the money.

I took me a couple chapters to acclimatize to the writing. I had to do a little rereading before I started to absorb the story. I will also admit that I skimmed through most of the scenery descriptions, I can't envision the setting through words anyway so it is always a bit lost on me.

I did end up really liking all the creepy guys in the story. Montori is greedy and unscrupulous, Count Morano is a super disturbing stalker type and and DuPont, Bertolini & Verezzi are quite the variety of sub par good or bad guys. To my surprise, the hero Valancourt was the pathetic one. Why she ever liked him....

I would definitely say that it must be read with a view to admiring the absurd and enjoying the genre for the fantastic melodrama it is.

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BettyBaker1
Jan 29, 2017

Extremely wordy as most books of that era and genre are.

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