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Thread: The Mysteries of Udolpho

  1. #1
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    Jul 2012

    The Mysteries of Udolpho

    'You speak like a heroine', said Montoni contemptuously. 'We shall see whether you can suffer like one'.

    And suffer Emily St. Aubert does, in Ann Radcliffe's best known Gothic shocker. The castle where she braves danger is Radcliffe's finest creation. 'There', said Montoni, 'is Udolpho'. Emily gazed with melancholy awe upon the castle, for the gothic greatness of its features and its mouldering walls of dark grey stone rendered it a gloomy and sublime object'. Emily endures physical threat and terror in gloomy vaults, apparently haunted rooms and a secret passageway leading from a door in her bedroom which she can't lock from the inside. And then there's the black veil....

    'Udolpho' is certainly too long, and the poems Emily is inspired to write by the dramatic scenery around her I could have done without. But on her own Gothic turf, no-one did it better than Radcliffe.

  2. #2
    I’m reading this book now. Will post as soon as I finish.
    The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one's mind a pleasant place in which to spend one's leisure.
    -Sydney J. Harris

  3. #3
    I just finished reading it. I've been planning to read it for a long time (nearly 6 years, ever since I read ' Northanger Abbey'), but the length intimidated me. The book was certainly too long and the descriptions and the poems made it harder to read. It took quite an effort to read the first few chapters, but after that I couldn't have stopped for anything. The suspense was superb, and there were so many subplots, so that you don't know what will happen next- like Sister Agnes turning out to be the Lady Laurentini.

    I think Jane Austen was speculating on what would have happened if Valancourt had proved to be unforgivable in 'Sense and Sensibility', with Willoughby as Valancourt and the Colonel as M. Du Pont. Also Madame Cheron reminded me of the similar ambitious but foolish aunt in 'Quentin Durward'. So Udolpho was clearly an influence on later writers.

    I enjoyed this book very much!
    The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one's mind a pleasant place in which to spend one's leisure.
    -Sydney J. Harris

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