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The Italian; Or, the Confessional of the Black Penitents (Valancourt Classics)
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The Italian; Or, the Confessional of the Black Penitents (Valancourt Classics)

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  2,745 ratings  ·  147 reviews
In "The Italian" (1797), Ann Radcliffe pits a scheming noblewoman and a ruthless monk against young lovers trying to bridge seemingly insurmountable class differences. The scenes of sublime nature, mysterious groans, corrupt ecclesiastics, isolated fortifications, and Inquisitorial torture reveal eighteenth-century Gothic fiction at its finest. "The Italian" stands as the ...more
Published July 20th 2006 by Valancourt Books (first published 1797)
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Bill  Kerwin

Conventional wisdom declares that Radcliffe was both dismayed and inspired by Lewis's "The Monk" into making "The Italian" her finest book. I disagree.

"The Italian" is certainly her best constructed and most tightly plotted novel and the concentrated Italianate atmosphere is extremely effective, particularly in the descriptions of landscapes. I think, though, that Mrs. Radcliffe's horror at Lewis's excesses of taste and immorality caused her to be too cautious toward her own genius, and that in
Anthony Vacca
Repulsed and inspired by Matthew Gregory Lewis’s graphic gothic novel, The Monk, Anne Radcliffe’s The Italian is a complexly plotted Romance (the term was derogatory then, although what they meant by a Romance then is not what we would derogatorily dismiss as a Romance now) about two chaste and naïve teens who fall madly in love with each other at first glance but then have their parade rained on by the boy’s mean-spirited mother and her minion, Schedoni, the conniving and ghoulish monk who chom ...more
This is the first time I've read a book that had me force myself through the first half, to then discover something of the most wonderful literature I can remember.

Therefore, it's very hard to grade The Italian. It's a slow, difficult read as much as a wonderful, subtle, psychological piece of work. The naive Vivaldi falls in love at first sight with the lovely, but poor Ellena. His mother, the Marchesa, does everything in her power to stop them seeing each other. She contacts her confessor, the
Ignacio Senao f
En lo desconocido siempre estará la sorpresa. Famosa por los “Los misterios de Udolfo”, demuestra que las novelas gruesas son más fáciles del boca a boca.

Tras 420 páginas, la soledad nos ahogará. Chico con bienes, conoce a chica conviviendo con su tía moribunda. Ella claro esta no tiene ni un duro y su alcurnia es del subsuelo. Ellos se quieren y casarse también. Mamá con posibilidades tiene un sofocón, al igual que papa Duque. No es posible que su hijo se case con un desecho material.

Tras esa b
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Oh, man. What's happening to me? I really enjoyed this book.

It's essentially the story of two young people who conceive a deep and abiding love for each other on the strength of a very brief acquaintance, largely consisting of longing for each other from afar after a brief initial meeting and subsequently spending a few boating trips together, chaperoned by suitably respectable relatives. The boy is from a noble and proud family; the girl, apparently, is from far more humble stock. His parents,
The Italian is the first of Ann Radcliffe’s novels that I’ve read. I can certainly see why Jane Austen just couldn’t help herself and had to parody this style of book in Northanger Abbey. The absurdly complicated and melodramatic plot that relies on so many ridiculous coincidences was too easy a target to be ignored. The other great fault of the book is that the characterisations are just too black and white. The book does have considerable strengths though. Radcliffe is exceptionally good at cr ...more
Johnny Waco
Ann Radcliffe's novel is one of the landmarks of the early gothic novel, and a basic sketch of the plot shows us why: aristocrat Vivaldi falls in love with the lovely Ellena, a girl without title or money, and his family conspires to go to any lengths to keep them apart, eventually involving the sinister and amoral monk Schedoni in their plans. Vivaldi and Ellena are sympathetic enough, but Schedoni steals the show, as all great villains do--murder, blackmail, false accusations, family abandonme ...more
This book was a slog and a half. By no means was it bad, but it was a little predictable and not all that entertaining in my mind. And it just took so long to make any headway! I wanted to like it - Ann Radcliffe, favourite author of Katherine Moreland - but I just struggled so much. Ah well...
Bri Fidelity
Sags a little here and there - and steals the Marquis de Montalt's oh-so-convenient exit from The Romance of the Forest for an ending - but is still miles more enjoyable than Udolpho, and with infinitely less padding (not a poem in sight!).

The dreamy, dreary little sequence with Ellena by the sea displays some of the most effectively eerie writing of Radcliffe's whole career; it really does feel like a long, slow-percolating nightmare.
Loved it! Beautifully written. Beautifully scary situations (with just enough tension release to let you breathe now and again), ugly villians, good plot surprises, and "A Happy Day, A Happy Day!" at the end...but I won't tell you who ends up happy. :) Grab a dictionary (lots of vocabulary words from the SATs) some hot chocolate and enjoy! I want to read more Radcliffe novels.
Aug 04, 2008 veronica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of gothic, British, 19th c
Recommended to veronica by: Dr. R
Shelves: classics
After having read "The Mysteries of Udolfo," I was very excited to read "The Italian," which Dr. R. had mentioned is an even better book. I don't know if it's really "better" but it is very different. The gothic elements in "The Italian" are far less of the "ghost and goblin" kind (think the curtain in "Udolfo," or the mystery corpse), and more of the evil that human nature is possible of. The plot is relatively easy to keep track of, and the characters are more deeply developed than in "Udolfo, ...more
Max Fincher
Ann Radcliffe's third best-selling Gothic novel is considered perhaps to be one of her finest.

Unlike her earlier novels, The Italian (1797) is set much closer to when Radcliffe is writing, in the late eighteenth century, specifically in Naples in southern Italy and Rome. What many readers do perhaps not realize is that Radcliffe never actually travelled in Italy herself. Her observant and atmospheric descriptions of convents perched on crags in the Alps are all imaginative, and inspired particul
Vera Anisimova
I can't say I liked it, but in general it was ok. There are some moments when you enjoy the twists of the plot, but there are too many parts I really had to struggle through. The protagonists' sentimental sufferings sometimes look unnatural, and the characters interrupting each other for stupid reasons and then quarelling about it really blow your mind.
Mandi Glover
I'm afraid I found this disappointing, after hearing what a perfect example of the Gothic novel it was. Despite the forensic dscriptions of the characters' thought-processes, I was never thoroughly convinced of their interior lives like you are with Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights, for example; especially not of Vivaldi's, who without fail thought exactly what a well-rounded brave yet moral hero was supposed to think, according to the initial account Radcliffe had given of his character. In fac ...more
This book was ok. I wish I could give it a 3 1/2 star rating, because although I didn't fall in love with the novel, I do think it was still written well. It was just a lot to get through. The first half of the book moves slowly, but it does pick up by the second half. To me, it was a somewhat typical Romeo and Juliet type of romance. The two characters in this novel who fall in love do so at first glance, and then their families try to keep them from one another, but there are also more story l ...more
Kristen Lemaster
The most complicated thing about this book is that its analysis of the novel and experimentation with novelistic plot conventions like deferral and temporality make it a joy and a struggle to read at the same time. The writing is lyrical (as Radcliffe is famous for her "word paintings" of the sublime and the beautiful) but also hilarious, especially in describing characters of excessive feeling such as Paulo. The story is so ironic it is obvious why it had so much influence on the works of Auste ...more
Carolyn Owen-King
It all seems a bit like a politer version of Matthew Lewis' 'The Monk.' For the first time in my reading of Radcliffe I did feel 'the terror', especially in the scene when Schedoni creeps up on her when she's asleep....!! (spoilers!)
All in all, it was a good read. I liked it a lot.
Elliott Simpson
There’s a recurring joke in The Italian where one character tries to convey a story to another character, making it much longer than it needs to be. The story often contains some very important information, such as someone’s death. The second character will frequently interrupt them, saying ‘just get on with it!’ but the first one will tell them to calm down and continue to tell their story at a meandering pace. Not only is joke very annoying – and even more-so once it happens for the fourth or ...more
This is another of the Austen"horrid novels", which I have decided to read. I have been reading this at night - slowly, just a chapter or two at a time - and I'm *finally* done. This was, um, slow going. Nothing happens for the first 60 pages, and then little bursts of action alternating with more of nothing-happens. I didn't care too much about the characters, who were basically blank slates. Radcliffe did have several figures here who were basically stolen straight outta Shakespeare - the garr ...more
3.75 stars. My favorite gothic romance so far and with such a memorable and complicated villain. Schedoni is definitely a good model for anyone who wants a villain with more depth.

The elements of the sublime work so well in this novel and the picturesque descriptions of the Italian landscape are gorgeous.

The romance between the hero and heroine is so lovely. I particularly love the comment that Vivaldi's best friend makes when the hopeless lover says that he doesn't know how to win Ellena's hea
Ebster Davis
This is a wonderful book to fall asleep to.

It's not as long as The Mysteries of Udolpho (a book by the same author which I've read) but it drags on, and a lot of the author's attempts at building suspense backfire by being gratuitously drawn-out.

Vivaldi is a young heir to a politically affluent family who falls in love with a working class girl before he's even seen her face and sets about trying to woo her without comming across like a complete creep (and fails).

His family finds out about his
The Italian had the typical Gothic horror feel so there wasn't anything disappointing in that regard however I did wish I had a better sense of where things were heading as the plot progressed. It went on quite a bit longer than I felt it should've but at least it mostly kept me entertained.

I found myself wondering why the story went the way it did because on so many occasions it didn't feel quite unified (especially when Vincentio was being tried). It was interesting to follow Ellena yet I didn
Ho letto questo libro tentata dalle numerose recensioni positive.

Il libro e' piacevole e la storia accattivante.
Ma nonostante io sia un'amante del genere gotico ho da fare alcune critiche che non mi sembra di aver letto in nessuna delle recensioni finora scritte.

Le descrizioni, seppure caratteristiche del genere gotico, in questo romanzo sono tremendamente lunghe e dettagliate. A mio avviso, invece di far entrare il lettore nel sentimento e nello stato d'animo che vanno a rievocare, annoiano e
I thoroughly enjoyed Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian. While it wasn’t a very deep story, it was well-told and kept me turning pages. At times, the plot twists were a tad melodramatic but she always kept the suspense high throughout three volumes, moved the plot swiftly and tied many threads together by the end. She didn’t explain everything, but I enjoy not having everything neatly tied up. It lets the reader enjoy and continue the story through their own mind.

I was impressed that Radcliffe, writing
This would definitely be a 5/5 if it hadn’t taken me so damn long to finish. We’re not even talking days here, we’re talking months. The Italian is split into three volumes and consists of 464 pages so I actually expected to have finished this novel within a few days but Radcliffe spends a large chunk of her time describing all the details of the characters’ surroundings which makes the story drag on. But it’s cool; I didn’t mind spending so much time reading this. This is actually one of those ...more
Soap opera plot with a Hollywood ending, yip-freakin'-pee! The story is a bland and generic one so I will skip it, I will just say a few words about what bothered me.

First of all, everyone is related to someone in 'The Italian', similar to her 'A Sicilian Romance' and Lewis' 'The Monk' but it bugged me more here for some reason. Every time a family link was revealed it set my eyes rolling with the habitual "Fuck! Again?" from yours truly.

Second, and this is a common complaint, is how the hell ca
This book is long-winded like nobody's business. The first half is very much a chore, but if you can stick it out until the second half, you're in for a fantastic display of creepy, crawly terror Gothic. On a more objective rating scale, I'd probably give this book four or even five stars. Personally, though, I feel this book is just way too long for its own good. This wordiness might have flown back in the 1790s, but it's just a drag to slog through today.
Though you've probably already heard th
At the time of writing this review I still have one hundred pages of the book to read, so my opinion of the novel itself may heighten or decline by the time I am finished. However, being very near the end of the book I feel my opinion on the text wont dramatically change. The Italian is no doubt a very important book in terms of it being widely considered one of the first major pieces of Gothic literature. Radcliffe, through the writing of this novel, brought to the forefront of British literatu ...more
David Gillis
What is there to say about Ann Radcliffe's The Italian? I will say that it's rather obvious how the novel can be seen as one of the landmark Gothic novels of its time. It might not have been as influential as Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, but The Italian carries with it heavy Romantic and Gothic elements that showcase Radcliffe's talent in constructing highly detailed settings. I would say that this is what I took the most from The Italian. Radcliffe goes on and on about the mountains in ...more
Readers of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey will remember the eagerness with which Catherine raced through Radcliff's Mysteries of Udolpho. I haven't read Udolpho yet, but the book makes clear that Radcliff can write a gripping story. This story is full of twists and turns, and I enjoyed imagining what Catherine would have thought as she read descriptions of gloomy subterranean passages, alters ornamented with flickering candles, rugged terrain, and sinister cloaked figures. (One can't help thinki ...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...
The Mysteries of Udolpho A Sicilian Romance The Romance of the Forest The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne Gaston de Blondeville

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“I wish that all those, who on this night are not merry enough to speak before they think, may ever after be grave enough to think before they speak!” 6 likes
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