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The Mysteries of Udolpho

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  7,233 ratings  ·  522 reviews
With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine's inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man...more
Kindle Edition, 626 pages
Published March 17th 2006 by Public Domain Books (first published 1794)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
“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...more
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 p...more
Henry Avila
Emily St. Aubert, has it all.Loving parents.A nice little 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.Making soft noises.As it goes .The young lady.Likes playing an instrument.Singing songs, to her father and mother.While sitting on a hill.An enchanting moment.The Chateau is located in the province of Gascany.A beautiful area.The Atla...more
Liz
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
Maeve
Aug 13, 2007 Maeve rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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.
David
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...more
Alain Gomez
"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...more
Candi
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
Alex
"'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...more
Jane Greensmith
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...more
emily
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...more
Charlene
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 in the future.
Melanie
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
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
haley
The very first english class I took after I made the resolute decision to become, in fact, an "english major" was English 2330--A survey class of English lit from 1700-the present. My professor was the ex-head of the dept, knew her shit, and was really into cats, opera, and could rattle off all of Elegy in a Churchyard or any amout of Wordsworth by heart, like it was nothing. She was also really into gothic literature-not the Anne Rice variety, mind you- but the authentic progenitors of the genr...more
Jamie
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...more
Lauren
Jul 28, 2008 Lauren rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
K.
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...more
Kristen
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...more
Laura
Despite other reviews I did enjoy this book. First, it's a classical gothic romance and certainly has influenced the books of this genre published after that. Second, each chapter begins with excellent and memorable quotations from Shakespeare, Milton and so on. The main character is more an Austen's type but it didn't bother into the plot, on the contrary.
Trice
Jan 25, 2012 Trice rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's read Northanger Abbey +
Recommended to Trice by: Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, The Jane Austen Bookclub, Ann's passing on of this copy
Shelves: literature, 2012, europa
***1/2 I feel very mixed about this one. I truly enjoyed the story, partly for itself and partly for what it adds to a reading of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (which now seems like a commentary/response to Udolpho). It's a different kind of adventure story, partly in that the main characters are so against the idea of adventure and the mountains themselves are terror. It had me in fits of laughter (which still recur in smaller form whenever I think about this) during some of the most serious p...more
Meg
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,...more
Amy
When I first read The Scarlet Pimpernel I made the mistake of reading the introduction. It contained a great deal of nonsense mostly discussing the romantic elements of the relationship between Sir Percy and Lady Marguerite. I almost didn’t read further. What kind of horrible book was I getting myself into?! The sexuality of the couple’s affection? Once I got to the novel part, I read uber-carefully, looking for anything even mildly inappropriate or suspicious…
And there was nothing.
Not One Blood...more
Abigail
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
Lisa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alice
Les Mystères d'Udolphe sont un incontournable de l'univers de Jane Austen lorsque l'on a lu Northanger Abbey. Il fallait donc bien que je finisse par me plonger dans ces pages qui ont su faire trembler Catherine Morland, et que je découvre enfin ce que se cache sous le fameux voile noir. Ce fut chose faite grâce à l'aide d'Elodie qui accepta de le lire avec moi et dont vous retrouvez l'avis ci-après.

Emilie est une jeune femme naïve et douce, qui va se retrouver confiée à des gens peu scrupuleu...more
Kathryn
If you've read Northanger Abbey, you can tell that it's a pastiche of something. But since the Gothic novel (generally) hasn't survived to today, most modern readers are a tiny bit lost. Fortunately, Project Gutenberg is here to save the day - it has preserved The Mysteries of Udolpho, a classic of the Gothic form.

Gothic novels were notorious for their ridiculously intricate plots, highly sensible (in the archaic meaning) heroines who fainted at the slightest provocation, heroes endowed with eve...more
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.



I WAS WRONG.

*JUST READ THESE SPOILERS AND SAVE YOURSELF THE TROUBLE OF READING THIS TRIPE*


This book is why God created editors, and why paying...more
Milena March
One of the most terrifying Gotic stories of its time? I'm not too sure about this, because I found little in The Mysteries of Udolpho which really made my hair stand on end. I think what truly prevented me from liking the novel was the angelic, virtuous heroine who, when placed in a difficult situation, did one of three things; cry, faint, or cry and then faint. Her complete lack of self-reliance was far too unrealistic, even for Radcliffe's time, and I found it a drag principally because of the...more
Rachel
I'd read so much about this book, and enjoyed the parody of it in Austen's 'Northanger Abbey,' that I felt I should tackle the original. This book is NOT for the feint of heart! I don't mean that it's terrifying, it's just really, really long and drawn out and has random poetry gratuitously inserted everywhere and incredibly long descriptions of scenery, mental states, and other things which normally require a sentence or two instead of several pages.

But, if you're really into the late 18th cent...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
More about Ann Radcliffe...
The Italian A Sicilian Romance The Romance of the Forest The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne Gaston de Blondeville

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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.” 18 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.” 13 likes
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