The Italian
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The Italian

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  2,141 ratings  ·  131 reviews
From the first moment Vincentio di Vivaldi, a young nobleman, sets eyes on the veiled figure of Ellena, he is captivated by her enigmatic beauty and grace. But his haughty and manipulative mother is against the match and enlists the help of her confessor to come between them. Schedoni, previously a leading figure of the Inquisition, is a demonic, scheming monk with no qual...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1797)
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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
Linda
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...more
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,...more
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...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
Dfordoom
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
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.
Christine
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.
veronica
Aug 04, 2008 veronica rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Kelsey
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
Drew
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...more
Huriyah
This review is from my blog

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. Thi...more
Fil
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...more
Joshua
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...more
Subat
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
Elizabeth
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
Nicholas Armstrong
This is the only Ann Radcliffe I've read, but there are some interesting things going on with it. First of all, what I've studied inclines me to believe that Radcliffe is the closest thing we have to the progenitor of contemporary horror as a genre. Really.

Stephen King is by far my favorite author, and the one I've studied and read the most, and I feel like I've gotten fairly accustomed to horror in fiction and its presentation. The way an author evokes fear, creates suspense, and keeps the read...more
Leslie
I actually really enjoyed this and I wasn't expecting on liking it more than Matthew Lewis's "The Monk" because my professor warned that this was a bit of a dry read compared to that one. However I found "The Italian" to be a lot better written and organized, whereas "The Monk" seemed more slapped together, rushing in a straight line to end sloppily. But then again "The Monk" was making fun of the Gothic novel, whereas "The Italian" was a true Gothic novel, not a parody like "The Monk" is. Also,...more
Jeanette
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe is the second book in the Northanger Cannon of Gothic Novels that I have read and it was definitely a challenge for me to get through.

The novel has all the elements of a Gothic romance, separation of lovers, dark ruins, good and evil monks and nuns, mistaken or unknown identity, supernatural occurrences, and revenge, but for me, I thought the book was rather slow paced for a Gothic novel.
The beginning of the novel seemed to have the elements of a Romeo and Juliet st...more
Kristen
Loved it for a fun foiled romance story. Even better than Udolpho - less fainting and less use of the word "sublime":). Near the end of the book there's a good quote by the evil Confessor that seems to define what is so fun about Gothic literature; "It(ardent imagination) may not willingly confine itself to the dull truths of this earth, but, eager to expand its faculties, to fill its capacity, and to experience its own peculiar delights, soars after new wonders into a world of its own!"

The ambi...more
Bruno Bouchet
I returned to this book for a second read after many years. It’s always been one of my favourite gothic novels, but this time round was confronted more by its challenges than its joys. I guess it’s a part of growing older than the bits I thought were great in my twenties don’t seem so great now but I did notice new things to admire. For the modern reader, the plot gets very confusing towards the end especially with the introduction of the second nefarious monk. He’s described really well, but th...more
Brittni
Being a noble family, it makes sense that the Vivaldis would disapprove of their son's interest in lowly Ellena di Rosalba, but the measures his mother takes to dissolve the relationship go too far. In her wish to avoid a blow to her reputation, the Marchesa latches eagerly onto any solution for breaking the lovers apart, making it easy for her conspirator to persuade her into drastic plans. Said conspirator is the grim monk Schedoni, helpful to the Marchesa only for promise of her backing his p...more
Grace Harwood
I've been reading a lot of Ann Radcliffe lately for a course on Gothic Literature I have been doing and this is the best one of hers I've read to date. (**I should just say, I've read A Sicilian Romance, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Castles of Athlin and Dunblane, but not read the posthumous one or The Romance of the Forest as yet). So perhaps I should have called this review "Best to date" or something like that. However, I can't see how it's going to get any better than this one. Whereas A Si...more
Betsy VanSweden
Ann Radcliffe's "The Italian" is a marvelous story written in the 18th century which does tend to follow the many prevalent themes found in "Gothic Literature" This novel does deviate from the norm in that generally one finds gothic servants to be minor characters which are used as a tool to provide some comic relief for the reader. Radcliffe goes against this ideal and uses the servant character of Paulo to provide a facilitator of all important events, a romantic voice in the novel, and also a...more
Christy
I'm soooo glad I'm finished with it. Oh, my, the long winded descriptions and conversations became so tedious. Many added nothing to the story. The reader knows what's going on and I wanted to shout to the character, spit it out! You have characters insisting on relating stories with so much unneccessary detail, and you have the other characters listening who keep urging the storyteller to "get to the point." And I was just bored during these pages of unneccesary dialog. What is that about???

By...more
kingshearte
First published in 1797, The Italian is one of the finest examples of Gothic romance. The fast-paced narrative centres on Ann Radcliffe's most brilliant creation, the sinister monk Schedoni, whose past is shrouded in mystery.

From the opening chapters the reader is ushered into a shadowy world, in which crime and religion intermingle. Leagued against Ellena di Rosalba and Vincentio di Vivaldi's union are the proud and ambitious Marchese [sic:] di Vivaldi and her confessor Father Schedoni. Superna
...more
Maria Grazia
The Italian (1797)

As many other Gothic novels written in the last 3 decades of the 18th century, also Mrs Radcliffe's THE ITALIAN was set in a Catholic country, namely Italy, more precisely Naples.This was due to exoticism or the cult of the exotic (everything which was distant in space and in time) but also to the protestant prejudices against Catholicism. So the terrible frightening events told take place in isolated convents and abbeys very often and the villains are monks or nuns. This is ex...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 Mysteries of Udolpho The Romance of the Forest A Sicilian Romance 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!” 5 likes
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