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The Italian

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,176 Ratings  ·  176 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 May 25th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1797)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bill  Kerwin
Jul 30, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it
Shelves: gothic, 18th-c-brit

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
Debbie Zapata
Sep 23, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pg
I had read The Mysteries of Udolpho earlier in the year and was interested enough in Radcliffe to want to read more of her work. My copy of The Italian had an introduction which I wish I had been able to read before starting on Udolpho, as it explains a lot about the Radcliffe style. Here is a short excerpt:

The basic pleasure in Mrs. Radcliffe's romances comes from a suspension of disbelief that leads to an enjoyment of the works of her fiction in and for itself. Cheerfully anachronistic in the
Anthony Vacca
Jun 19, 2014 Anthony Vacca rated it liked it
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
Sep 23, 2015 ᴏᴍᴀɪʀᴀ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ᴏᴍᴀɪʀᴀ by: Lovecraft

"Volvía la mirada hacía el pasado y esperaba el futuro con una especie de desalentada desesperación"


Ann Radcliffe ostenta el título de ser la “Madre de la Literatura Gótica” , y no de forma inmerecida. Todo comienza cuando la joven Radcliffe, un año después de contraer matrimonio, escribe su primera novela a por pura pasión, sin darse cuenta de la magnitud de lo que estaba creando. Al principio las ventas fueron escasas, pero poco a poco surgieron admiradores de su prosa (sobre todo
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
May 23, 2015 Ignacio Senao f rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Pierre Menard
Nov 01, 2015 Pierre Menard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Who appreciated obstructed love stories
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Apr 03, 2008 Dfordoom rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror-gothic
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
Sep 02, 2008 Christine rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 05, 2014 Melanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, book-club
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.
Ebster Davis
Mar 25, 2015 Ebster Davis rated it it was ok
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
Aug 04, 2008 veronica rated it liked it
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
Jun 13, 2013 Max Fincher rated it really liked it
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
Dec 06, 2014 Vera Anisimova rated it it was ok
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.
dana moss
Jun 26, 2016 dana moss rated it it was amazing
this is honestly one of the funniest books i have ever read. i'm not sure how much of the humour was intended but - honestly. it's charming, it's got the plot of a soap opera with additional gothic flourishes, it really conveys the italian setting, byron loved it, shelley loved it, wordsworth didn't love it (more of a reason to enjoy it, i say.)

schedoni's been described as the precursor to the byronic hero, or at least a healthy influence on byron's depiction, and he entirely makes the book for
Mar 02, 2016 Lisa rated it it was ok
Written as a "proper" novel in reaction to "The Monk" by Matthew Lewis, Radcliffe was supposedly attempting to make the story (on the flaws of character in religious figures) more acceptable and appropriate as well as better written. However, the unity and interrelationship nuances were lost in this retelling.

The repetition of setting, which worked to establish a sort of trinity in Lewis' novel, is clunky and distracting here. Within a very short time, the description of the tunnel and number o
Czarny Pies
Oct 04, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to learn how to write thea "Davinci Code".
Recommended to Czarny by: Walter Scott, Paul Féval
Shelves: english-lit, etron
In her very short literary career which essentially began and ended in the 1790's, Ann Radcliffe had a profound influence on western literature and popular culture. Her influence can clearly be seen in the works of Walter Scott, Paul Feval, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and many others. Gothic literature is alive and flourishing in the twenty-first century which might not be the case if Ann Radcliffe had developed so many devices and techniques that writers in this profoundly trashy genre have ne ...more
Sep 20, 2015 Roberto rated it liked it
Recommends it for: gothics/ description lovers
Recommended to Roberto by: -
Commenting over “L’italiano, o il confessionale dei penitenti neri”, Ann Radcliffe, Newton & Compton ed. (Italian edition).

2,75/ 5 stars.

First: I do apologize for any grammar mistake; as you can see, English is just my second language.

Second: I just finished this book a couple of hours ago while I started reading this in early august. It took me more than a month, mostly due to my duties but here I am, finally.

Third: I’ve read some of the comments here and I must say that spoilers are way to
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
Jun 26, 2014 Kelsey rated it liked it
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
Nov 11, 2014 Carolyn Owen-King rated it really liked it
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.
Adriano Giri
Jan 26, 2016 Adriano Giri rated it really liked it
Ever since I discovered Ann Radcliffe's novels, she instantly became one of my favourite authors ever. Her gothic novels, full of suspense and horror, mixed with romantic and Shakespearean elements got me involved in other worlds, in other times... "The Italian" was magnificent!! It's not as good as her other novel "The Mysteries of Udolpho", but it's filled with a lot of suspense and even more darkness and opression, especially with the character of Ellena, who, in contrast to Emily's character ...more
Oct 22, 2015 Helen rated it liked it
The first third of this novel is really fun, but after that it loses its steam. Radcliffe's contemporaries were intrigued by the supposed abuses and mysteries that took place in the Catholic Church and the Spanish Inquisition, but current readers will likely find the several hundred pages that feature the Spanish Inquisition's dungeons and trials a little tedious. However, this book has tremendous historical importance: Radcliffe was the reigning champion of the Gothic novel. If you want a thoro ...more
May 14, 2015 Kirsten rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenna Free
I read this for a grad class. Totally not my style, but, after studying it with class, I decided it's okay. I like that Ann Radcliffe wrote a very strong heroine in a time when strong heroines were not common. It's also somehow a romance. (Gothic romance, I guess?) From what I've read about the book, it is considered one of the most perfect Gothic novels. Ghosts and dark places, dark pasts, miscommunication that almost leads to disaster for all the good characters, but they triumph over the evil ...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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“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!” 8 likes
“But no matter for that, you can be tolerably happy, perhaps, notwithstanding; but as for guessing how happy I am, or knowing anything about the matter,--- O! its quite beyond what you can understand.” 6 likes
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