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The Mysteries of Udolpho (Dover Giant Thrift Editions) Paperback – November 18, 2004

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Giant Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (November 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486440338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486440330
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Randy Stafford VINE VOICE on July 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 (Dover Thrift Editions) is much more fun, a distillation of much of Radcliffe's images and tropes into a delightfully lurid and supernatural plot.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Linore Rose Burkard, aka L.R.Burkard on January 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a true late eighteenth century book in the sense that it has a leisurely (very leisurely) opening, a great deal of waxing eloquent on the beauties of nature--which are well written, but so frequent that one becomes inured to them--and enough pages to fill up the four volumes that the book originally was published as (over 600 of them).

But there's more--castles, and dungeons and darkness, Oh my! In true Gothic fashion, the book does not disappoint in the gloom and suspense department, and is replete with all the trappings that make for some fun reading. There are plenty of scares and false alarms, and a couple of true horrors, and all is told with taste and style. There are certainly flaws, in the modern sense, of the drawn-out plot, and the fainting heroine routine gets a bit tired; but all in all, a fascinating study of an early novel, and a hero and heroine you root for.

The high moral tone is refreshing though a little too strained; And surprisingly, the sense of being in the late sixteenth century is not as pronounced as one could wish for. (Aside from the castles and the absence of law and order in the land, that is.) More attention could have been given to costume, for instance, instead of just landscape, but the book earns five stars in my opinion for being an immense work that is very readable, even page-turning to a remarkable degree, and has a satisfying denouement. (There are a few elements that stretch plausability, but this is certainly nothing new in fiction; and, given what the author needed to explain at the end, she does a fine job.)

Fans of the novel, of Austen and other nineteenth century authors, will find this book interesting in other ways, too.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. mancebo on July 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
it must have been a 600+ page book with 500 pages of landscapes and 400 pages of crying-i have allowed for time spent crying while looking at landscapes-. all that aside, the story is not bad at all and, the best part, is that all the mysteries are resolved at the end of the book. no loose ends are left. yet, i still cant say that i think it is worth reading in its entirety. for the amount of story Radcliff is trying to tell, she takes an ungodly amount of paper to tell it.

p.s. if you need to know why this book is so important and so many famous authors have read it:
1. it is considered the best work of the lady created the feminine/english gothic genera.
2. it's written like a dream-notice how long it takes to get places and how fast it takes to get back from them. just notice the distance between things as you read. the weather is emotions, the landscape is a foreshadowing, a castle is a secret-and dangerous-full of subterranean tunnels that go to places no one knew were there. every castle has them but no one talks about them.
3. because its a dream, your in someones head, your in there mind. so, it's about being in the mind. no one had ever written a book like it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on June 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
...the quintessential eighteenth century gothic novel.

France, 1584. The St. Auberts don't have much, but they also don't want anything other than what is before them. They live in a chateau overlooking the most beautiful landscapes, from rivers to woods to trees. Monsieur St. Aubert loves books. He has a giant library, and his biggest pleasure in life is reading Horace while overlooking the gorgeous scenery before him. He has passed his passions on to his lovely daughter Emily. But the family is never the same after Madame St. Aubert dies. Overcome with grief, both M. St. Aubert and Emily agree to travel, for fresh air would certainly do them good. During their journey, they meet a young man by the name of Valancourt. He is a handsome and chivalrous scholar, and he hits it off not only with M. St. Aubert but with Emily as well. In fact, strong feelings emerge between them. But secrets, danger and evil tear them apart when Montoni, Emily's great-uncle becomes obsessed with her. Add to it strange family secrets, ambiguous characters, a skeleton, disappearances and murders, and you get quite an interconnected gothic tale filled with romance and terror.

First published in 1794, The Mysteries of Udolpho is Ann Radcliffe's second and most popular title in her short writing career. Even though she only wrote three novels, her name is still mentioned among the first novelists to create and mold the gothic genre. The Mysteries of Udolpho is beautiful. The writing draws you in with its picturesque descriptions and gothic atmosphere, not to mention its romantic tones, sprinkled with poetry and sonnets. In many ways, this book is similar to The Romance of the Forest, Radcliffe's first novel, but this one is thicker on plot and suspense.
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