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The Mysteries of Udolpho (Oxford World's Classics) First Edition (1 in number line) Edition

41 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192825230
ISBN-10: 0192825232
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Terry Castle is Professor of English at Stanford University.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition (1 in number line) edition (September 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192825232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192825230
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.5 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,739,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
I fear I don't have the words to fully explain just how important, enjoyable, and breath-taking this novel is to me; The Mysteries of Udolpho is simply one of the greatest written works ever produced. While this is a Gothic novel, arguably the greatest Gothic novel ever written, it is so much more than that. "Gothic" denotes dark castles, spectral haunts, dastardly deeds performed by cruel, mysterious men--certainly these elements are here. However, a large portion of this novel is simply beautiful--no one I know of has ever described the simple grandeur of life and nature or waxed more poetically on the noble merits of love and honor as does Ann Radcliffe.
Emily is one of the most memorable characters in all of fiction. To be frank, I simply fell in love with her. Through her, I was able to not only see but to better appreciate life itself and the simple beauties it manifests. When she was hurt or pained, I shared her sorrow; many times, I felt compelled to jump up and somehow defend her against the monstrous injustices inflicted upon her. I admired her morality and deep commitment to honor, a commitment so deep that she sacrificed in deference to it her own deep love for Valancourt, a love so deep that it alone allowed her to withstand the horrors of Count Montoni and the castle of Udolpho. Certainly, Emily is very sensitive and overdramatic, and she does tend to faint a lot, but she is a pure angel to someone like myself who is a Victorian at heart.
The Gothic horror is very well done, but it does not take up nearly as much of the novel as I had anticipated. Radcliffe can bring chills to readers even today.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Rask on September 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
When published in 1794, this lengthy tale of romance and intrigue became a best-seller, reportedly the first best-seller ever. When reading it, one can very well imagine the author -- a reclusive English lady -- writing this story for her own entertainment and as a record of her own day dreams, her intimate flights of fancy.
There is no question that the sweet, suffering, intelligent, compassionate, level-headed, courageous Emily St. Aubuert of the story is the author's other self, the self she imagines herself to be. The trials she faces as her other self, she faces with courage and intelligence and outstanding patience: the loss of parents, the awful tyranny of her aunt with whom she has been placed as a ward, the terror of the Archvillain Montoni who kept her captive in the remote, ghostly castle of Udolpho and her daring escape -- all were most likely Ms. Radcliffe's day dreams set to paper. Afterall, she was childless and well-bred and in those times, there was little for a well-educated lady of her class do but to read and dream and write.
And she developed her craft grandly. Her descriptions of scenery, the locations of each set-piece of her novel are vivid and memorable. She had an eye for the sweep of detail of a landscape, a forest, a plain, a mountain and she had the talent of painting her scenes under shrouds of mystery and melancholy.
Emily's love affair with the chevalier Valancourt to whom she gave her entire capacity for love, and his betrayal of it and proof of his unworthiness, comes as a disappointment. But then, at the end there is a reconciliation and appropriate romantic solution of the problem, however unlikely.
The novel is long, too long, really.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Though this is a coming of age story, Emily St. Aubert never strays far from the womblike enclosure of a house, carriage, or prison. She trips away from home seeking the beauty of nature, but inevitably she is brought back by the voice of her saintly father, a disapproving aunt, or "ghosts" in the forest. Walls confine and protect Emily during her difficult transformation from child to woman.
The simple and elegant chateau where the genial heroine grew up is a "resort of love, of joy, of peace and plenty". As the sole surviving child, she is cherished by her parents who lead a sublime existence amidst surrounding acres of beautiful forests, a river, mountains, and plains. Unlike most Renaissance women, Emily is very well educated. Most of her idle hours are spent writing poetry, reading, and wandering through the woods. She is also a gifted singer and enjoys playing the lute and sketching. The heroine of The Mysteries of Udolpho is difficult to forget. Indeed, one of the best features of this book is the variety of well-drawn characters.
Shortly after the story begins, Emily and her ailing father embark on a journey by carriage through the backwoods of southern France. From the window of the carriage, Emily views seascapes, grassy knolls, wildflowers, flocks of sheep, dark forests and the towering Alps. Radcliffe uses vivid imagery, but it can be tiresome after two or three consecutive paragraphs of landscape description intermixed with the travelers' meditations on the scenery.
A few months after this journey Emily becomes the reluctant ward of her social climbing aunt. She is trapped in Aunt Cheron's tacky house which is filled with large furniture, servants in spiffy uniforms, and gaudy decorations.
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