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The Mysteries of Udolpho

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  10,753 Ratings  ·  775 Reviews

A best-seller in its day and a potent influence on Sade, Poe, and other purveyors of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic horror, The Mysteries of Udolpho remains one of the most important works in the history of European fiction. After Emily St. Aubuert is imprisoned by her evil guardian, Count Montoni, in his gloomy medieval fortress in the Appenines, terror becomes

Paperback, 676 pages
Published June 5th 1980 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1794)
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Hanne Northanger Abbey was in part created as a parody of Mysteries of Udolpho....
Vanessa Norhausen That's really hard to answe. It's a gothic novel, but it doesn't really deal with the supernatural, and it's very different in style. personally, I'm…moreThat's really hard to answe. It's a gothic novel, but it doesn't really deal with the supernatural, and it's very different in style. personally, I'm not a fan of the writing but like the story well enough to keep reading.(less)

Community Reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
This mammoth, prolix book--the first wildly popular gothic novel--is indifferently written, poorly planned,and inconsistent in purpose and tone. Radcliffe's style is irritating, filled with continual redundancies, superfluous commas and dialogue that is often stilted and improbable. The plot doesn't even get in gear until a third of the way through(two hundred pages!), and it loses its focus and dissipates its power in the last one hundred and fifty pages or so when Radcliffe introduces some pal ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 02, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
“A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness. Store it with ideas, teach it the pleasure of thinking; and the temptations of the world without, will be counteracted by the gratifications derived from the world within.”

 photo CastleUdolpho_zps3d98bdeb.jpg
Castle Udolpho

Emily St. Aubert has done her best to prepare her mind for the outside world, but when both her parents sud
Henry Avila
Jun 07, 2013 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emily St. Aubert, has it all, loving parents, a nice, little, charming estate, she lives on, in southern France, Anno Domini 1584. The young gentlewoman, adores walking around her father's land, looking at the nearby, exotic Pyrenees Mountains, watching the calm Garonne River, flow by, hearing it making soft noises, as it goes along. The lady likes playing an instrument, singing songs, to her affectionate father and mother, while sitting on a hill, with a great view, an enchanting moment, never ...more
Debbie Zapata
Jan 01, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gutenberg
I chose to read this book the same way many other people did. I was reading the Jane Austen novel Northanger Abbey as part of a group read, and the topic of 'The Horrid Novels' came up. The Mysteries Of Udolpho was the only one I had access to, so it was the one I read.

This is a long book, old-fashioned in style (naturally, being published in 1794) but I enjoyed it very much, even though I had my doubts going in because I lost my taste for the Gothic genre years ago. I expected to give up on it,
3.5 stars for this classic gothic novel.
This was an engaging read and is considered to be one of the first gothic novels. I loved the language, I loved the characters (except for the evil M. Montoni and Madame Charone) , but I did dislike the extensive descriptions of scenery that seemed to go on forever. I'm glad that I read it, but I doubt I will ever tackle it again for a re-read.
Alain Gomez
Mar 06, 2011 Alain Gomez rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"I believe that memory is responsible for nearly all these three-volume novels"
-Oscar Wilde

One thing I will say for this book is that it made Oscar Wilde's plays even more entertaining for me. I now know what he was talking about when he trashes books of "unusually revolting sentimentality." And what he says is very true. I am absolutely certain that Ann Radcliffe wrote this book as a sort of extended journal for her travels. At least half of it is devoted to scenery descriptions. Now this is
Jane Greensmith
Mar 18, 2010 Jane Greensmith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These days, most people who know about Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho know about it because Catherine Morland read it and Jane Austen parodied it in Northanger Abbey. However, back when it hit the streets for the first time in May of 1794, it was a blockbuster…I like to think of it as the Twilight of its day.

I finally go around to reading it this month, after threatening to for years, and here are my thoughts on it.

If you are only going to read one Gothic novel, to see what all the fus
"'You speak like a heroine,' said Montoni, contemptuously; 'we shall see if you can suffer like one.'"

And if all the sentences in this book were half as good as that one, we'd be looking at a five-star book here, but sadly the rest of it is just hella boring. You might be reading a lame book if you have this thought: "Oh great, it's one of the heroine's long, shitty poems; that's three fewer pages I'll have to actually read." And if you think Montoni's threat means that the torture device you br
Feb 17, 2009 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, own, gothic
As a fan of Austen's Northanger Abbey, I wanted to read this just to find out what all the fuss was about. It features the standard pure-as-the-driven-snow heroine, Emily St. Aubert, who, after the tragic death of her parents, is shipped off to live with her nasty aunt, who has no greater joy in life than to torment Emily, and keep her from her beloved suitor, Valancourt. Just when the nasty aunt finally agrees to let Emily be wed to Valancourt (after it becomes clear that Valancourt is actually ...more
Aug 07, 2007 Maeve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of crying
dry your eyes! if you get bored while you're reading this (and trust me, you will!) count how many times people cry or have their eyes glisten with tears while looking at a beautiful scene or are moved to tears by pity....argggghhh. really.
Nov 12, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
You can’t beat Ann Radcliffe’s masterpiece for pure escapism. Written in 1794, it was an immediate sensation, and has been popular ever since. It was published between her ‘Romance of the Forest’ (1791) and ‘The Italian’ (1797), her other two great works of Gothic fiction, and its fans included Byron, Scott and Coleridge. For years after its first appearance there were oblique references to it in Keats and Jane Austen, showing that they assumed familiarity with the book.

Containing all the classi
Herman Gigglethorpe
One of my friends often reads silly romances, and told me of a gothic novel parody called "Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron" that often appears as a running gag in some of them. I thought that Mysteries of Udolpho would basically be that, except not as a joke. I expected a light read about a cackling supervillain that would make me laugh for a few days.



This book is why God created editors, and why paying
Olivier Delaye
Jun 09, 2012 Olivier Delaye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Gothic story is overlong, redundant, long-winded, punctuation-happy, info-dumping-friendly, exposition-enthusiastic-to-a-major-fault, hair-pullingly frustrating, teeth-gnashingly slow.... so why do I like it so much?

Author of the SEBASTEN OF ATLANTIS series
The Forgotten Goddess (Sebasten of Atlantis, #1) by Olivier Delaye
Mar 13, 2010 emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never seen the word "melancholy" used as much as in this book, nor in such widely varied situations.

Do not go to Udolpho for character development (there's none -- people are wholly good, wholly servant-funny, wholly evil, or wholly conniving) or for rapid plot developments (we spend a lot of time looking at melancholy vistas, worrying about whether banditti may linger in the forests, or seeing peasant children from a distance and finding them picturesque). However, if you created the "Gr
Nov 21, 2014 Pink rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this more than I did, but in truth I found it too long and laborious in places. Nonetheless it's still a great book, with fantastically descriptive writing, an atmospheric setting and a plot to keep you turning the pages. Mixed feelings, but a solid 3 stars.
Dec 03, 2008 Candi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Okay this book was written as historical fiction in 1794, telling a story set in the 1500s, by Ann Radcliffe who became popular because of this book, but always wanted to break into the "man's" art of poetry. Knowing that I expected this book to be full of poetry and enlightenment era(barely pre-Jane Austen) ideas/behaviors which it was. The plot of the book is fantastic, very complex and full with just the right amount of scenery, characters, and intrigue. I can see why it was so popular at the ...more
I picked up The Mysteries of Udolpho second-hand a few years ago. After all, what literature nerd hasn't heard of it and been curious? I found reading it a hilarious journey into the history of popular fiction. It was, really, the "Twilight" of it's day, the must-read that would send young girls off into raptures (as evidenced in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey) complete with a stunningly beautiful and virtuous heroine who is adored by all men who set eyes on her, though she seems to split her ti ...more
Ugh, I am so glad that's over with. STOP CRYING YOU STUPID WHINY BITCH. Sorry for that outburst, but the 'heroine' of this novel got on my nerves so much. Seriously, her automatic response to absolutely anything is either to faint or, more commonly, to turn away to hide the tears that welled unbidden into her eyes. Literally every third page or so Emily is unable to stop herself from weeping. Yes, her father dies, which is pretty sad, but must you really cry because the mountains are so beautifu ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Meg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have wanted to read the Mysteries of Udolpho for many years now, since I read Northanger Abbey in college and my professor continuously refered to 'The veil, the black veil!' Having just purchased my Kindle, I was able to find a copy of Udolpho and read it for free.

I am exceedingly glad I did. I have read many Victorian and Edwardian short stories based on horror and ghosts, and I was simply under the impression that with a few select exceptions (The Pit and the Pendellum) the older a book is,
Rebecca McNutt
Don't get me wrong, classic books are great (I love To Kill A Mockingbird and Anne of Green Gables for instance) but the trouble with classic books is that some of them are highly acclaimed just because they've been categorized as being classic, and it's expected that any book lover would fall in love with a classic novel because it's earned its respect. However, books are subject to their readers, and can't be judged by reviews or by what other people say, because some books that the world gene ...more
After reading "Northanger Abbey" and seeing this on my shelf I decided to pick it up (one doesn't always like to pick up enormous gothic novels). I wanted to see what it was really all about.

Well, I didn't quite have the leisure of Mr. Tilney and I didn't swallow it down in two days with hardly a breath, but it was slightly entertaining and amusing, but probably not in the way the author intended. And it also wasn't exactly what I expected (although, honestly, I don't know exactly what I expect
Sarah Anne
I thoroughly enjoyed this meandering tale. And I do mean it does meander :) The description on Goodreads is actually a bit deceptive because it only covers a portion of the book. Instead we get something more like a year or two in the life of the heroine, who, by the way, is one of the strongest heroines I've seen in any book. She stands on her own two feet and with a great deal of fortitude she manages to withstand things that are incredibly difficult. All with a minimum of fainting.

While the s
If anyone i know says they hate this book i certainly wouldn't reprove them. This is a book which really needs the reader to embrace it and accept it for what it is.
The entire first quarter of this story is pretty much nothing but staring at scenery and weeping. I tried to embrace it and read it at its own languid pace but even so my eyes did occasionally glaze over. However even near the start there are those odd mysteries which keep it interesting.
Later theres a lot of superstitious scares a
Feb 15, 2011 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm just another one of those people who read this on Jane Austen's recommendation. (I do thing she's qualified, don't you?)

A Gothic Novel was never meant to be great literature. At the time of it's publication, fans of the genre were regarded the same as modern-day Anne Rice fans. ("Oh how nice, she's reading a book. At least she's not out having anonymous sex in exchange for drugs.") (Actually, you could argue that Anne Rice is a modern Gothic Novelist, but I digress.)

That being said, why aren
Sotiris Karaiskos
Εξαιρετικό βιβλίο που μου άφησε τις καλύτερες εντυπώσεις και γέμισε τις ώρες μου με λογοτεχνική ομορφιά. Από πού να αρχίσω και που να τελειώσω; Από τη γλυκιά μελαγχολία που διαποτίζει κάθε σελίδα; Από την υπέροχη γραφή που σε γεμίζει όμορφες ποιητικές εικόνες; Από τους χαρακτήρες που τους γνωρίζουμε σε τέτοιο βάθος που είναι σαν να τους γνωρίσουμε από κοντά; Από το όμορφο, μελαγχολικό και πολλές φορές τρομακτικό σκηνικό που εξελίσσεται η ιστορία; Από την ατμόσφαιρα μυστηρίου που δεν σε αφήνει να ...more
May 24, 2016 Bat-Cat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I found the writing simply stunning and Ann Radcliffe's ability to consistently write (I think she didn't lapse throughout the entire book) such beautiful prose while, again consistently, creating an underlying sense of tension and dread is amazing to me. Once I got into her rhythm and style I was hooked until the very end. Great read!!!
Nov 30, 2014 Katy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bingo-2016
A classic of the Gothic Genre. Probably the most fainting I've ever read in a book, but I did enjoy it. It takes the long way around to get to the story. The scenery is described well and we follow the stories & background of many characters.
Apr 06, 2008 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gothic genre enthusiasts
Hm. I suspect that the only reason I don't read modern gothic romances is that they are usually poorly written. I also suspect that this one, being old, may be well written. I don't know why I automatically assume that anything "old" must be good,or perhaps I am more forgiving of antiques... At any rate, I anticipate deriving an embarrassing amount of enjoyment from it. But we shall see.

100 pages in:
Radcliffe seems to pride herself on her effulgent descriptions of the French landscape, but I've
Feb 06, 2010 Kristen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 18th-century
I admit it: I read this primarily because Northanger Abbey is one of my favorite books, and I wanted to understand more of the jokes.

The Mysteries of Udolpho is fun in its own right, though. It's not great literature, but it's never dull. The poor heroine is swept breathlessly from accident to tragedy to bliss back to misery without a pause, only to have everything wrapped up quite suddenly, and to perfect satisfaction at the end. This is exactly the sort of reading you can imagine a Georgian t
Sara Giacalone
I'm not sure what to say about this book that hasn't been said many times before. It starts out incredibly slow... plodding along with until about a quarter through, after that it picks up nicely. The characters are insipid and one-dimensional, the plot and numerous mysteries are rather obvious and the prose is forced and rather dull - all those commas! the use of the word melancholy on every page! the constant fainting and weeping! - overall it made a rather tedious read, although sometimes a f ...more
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Ann Radcliffe was an English author, a pioneer of the gothic novel.

Radcliffe was born Ann Ward in Holborn. At the age of 22, she married journalist William Radcliffe, owner and editor of the English Chronicle, in Bath in 1788. The couple was childless and, to amuse herself, she began to write fiction, which her husband encouraged.

She published The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne in 1789. It set the
More about Ann Radcliffe...

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“A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness. Store it with ideas, teach it the pleasure of thinking; and the temptations of the world without, will be counteracted by the gratifications derived from the world within.” 45 likes
“Such is the inconsistency of real love, that it is always awake to suspicion, however unreasonable; always requiring new assurances from the object of its interest.” 23 likes
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