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The Mysteries of Udolpho

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
By: (1764-1823)

Considered a change agent in early Gothic romance; oft-referenced in later literary works or paid homage to by such authors as Jane Austen (influential novel ready by her heroine, Catherine Morland, in Northanger Abbey); Edgar Allen Poe (borrowed plot elements for the short story The Oval Portrait); and Sir Walter Scott.

In The Mysteries of Udolpho, one of the most famous and popular gothic novels of the eighteenth century, Ann Radcliffe took a new tack from her predecessors and portrayed her heroine’s inner life, creating an atmosphere thick with fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today. – The Mysteries of Udolpho, set in Europe in the year 1584, is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt’s new husband, Montoni, after being forced to travel through France and Italy. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni’s threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.

The mysterious happenings in the story always have a natural and probable explanation because Radcliffe was a very rational person and did not believe in the supernatural. Radcliffe’s strengths in writing were in describing scenery as well as suspense and terror. Many critics have called the work “dreamlike” and “suggestive of the cinematic technique of slow-motion.”
(Summary by Wikipedia/Michelle Crandall)

First Page:

THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO

A Romance

Interspersed With Some Pieces of Poetry

By Ann Radcliffe

Fate sits on these dark battlements, and frowns, And, as the portals open to receive me, Her voice, in sullen echoes through the courts, Tells of a nameless deed.

VOLUME 1

CHAPTER I

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... Continue reading book >>


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