Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Mysteries of Udolpho

"Her present life appeared like a dream of a distempered imagination or like one of those frightful fictions, in which wild genius of the poets sometimes delighted. Reflection brought only regret, and anticipation terror."

Such is the state of mind of Ann Radcliffe's orphaned heroine Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself imprisoned in her her evil guardian Count Montoni's gloomy medieval fortress in the remote Apennines. Terror is the order of the day inside the walls of Udolpho, as Emily struggles against Montoni's rapacious schemes and the threat of her own psychological disintegration.

A bestseller in its day and a potent influence on Sade, Poe, and other writers, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) is Radcliffe's classic work of Gothic fiction. With its dream-like plot and hallucinatory of its characters' psychological states, the novel remains a profound and fascinating challenge to modern readers.

Well, it was a definite challenge. For me, at least.

I struggled with it all along. But I kept on reading, even though I found the writing to be flowery, it had a kind of poetry that kept me going. In all honesty I think the first hundred pages aren't needed - just my opinion - it just drags on and on.

But once it gets to the Gothic parts, it definitely turns around. It's more exciting and scary. And I think that's what appealed to me. I like dark and sinister stories, and I'm not afraid to admit that there were times that I was terrified along with Emily.

At the beginning I found Emily to be a naive heroine, but she grew on me throughout the book. Even if she cried one too many times...I couldn't understand her feelings for Vallancourt, I found him dull. I actually enjoyed Montoni, his crazy evil antics, he was entertaining, let's face it if he wasn't in the story, there wouldn't be one.

Will I read again? No, it's a one time deal. But I am glad that I read it.

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (3/5) Classic Literature; Gothic Romance; Published: G. G. and J. Robinson (1794); 2009 100 + Reading Challenge (50); 2009 Support Your Local Library (44); 18th & 19th Century Women Writers' Reading Challenge (4); Spring Reading Thing Challenge (3); Chunkster Challenge (3);

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