Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mysteries of Udolpho” as Want to Read:
The Mysteries of Udolpho
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Mysteries of Udolpho

by
3.38  ·  Rating details ·  12,126 ratings  ·  934 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 ...more
Paperback, 693 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1794)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mysteries of Udolpho, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Hanne Northanger Abbey was in part created as a parody of Mysteries of Udolpho....
Julie Gastler Not at all. Some of the things hinted at in Northanger Abbey actually kept me interested in Udolpho because I really wanted to know what they were…moreNot at all. Some of the things hinted at in Northanger Abbey actually kept me interested in Udolpho because I really wanted to know what they were talking about in Northanger Abbey. I'd recommend reading Northanger Abbey first, actually.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,126 ratings  ·  934 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Bill  Kerwin
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it

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 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
...more
Henry Avila
Jun 07, 2013 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
Michael
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
I'm reading this book again to get back in touch with some of the early English gothic novels. I'm struck, in these early pages, by the extreme romanticization and lush description of nature. The natural world has a sort of earthy goodness that draws Emily and her father in. By contrast, the characters who are more urbane are invariably depicted as manipulative and ruthless.
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
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Northanger Abbey fans only
Shelves: classics
2.5★

Every author and aspiring author should read this book. Not because it is a great book (it really wasn't) but because they will look at their proofreaders, copy editors and beta readers with a whole new appreciation!

Another reader I know decided to read the audio version - & fell asleep. When she awoke (a few hours later) Emily & her father were still endlessly travelling through Europe. A ruthless, modern day editor would have halved this book in size - & would have produced a
...more
Sara
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
3.5 rounded up.

Ye Gads! I started this book back in July, had to table it, and started over the first week in December. Still took me a month to finish. I have to say, what Ms. Radcliffe could have used the most in her writing career was the services of a good editor. I can appreciate long descriptive passages, but how many in depth descriptions of someone collapsing into tears does one need. By halfway through the book, she could have just said "Emily wept" and I would have known she was colla
...more
Alain Gomez
Mar 06, 2011 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
...more
Debbie Zapata
Jan 01, 2015 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,
...more
Werner
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of early Romantic Gothic fiction
As British literary scholar Bonamy Dobree notes at the outset of his introduction to the 1966 Oxford Univ. Press edition of this late 18th-century classic, Radcliffe's best-known novel held its place in the canon of British literature for half a century. It was subsequently eclipsed by more accomplished works, and by changing stylistic tastes; but its historical prominence and influence testify to some literary strengths which merit attention for it even today in its own right, as well as for it ...more
Char
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.
Jane Greensmith
Mar 18, 2010 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
...more
Liz
Feb 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, reviewed, 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
Maeve
Aug 07, 2007 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.
David
Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Katy
Nov 30, 2014 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.
Wanda
3.5 stars

I read this book to fill the Gothic square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

This is the mother of all Gothic romance, originally published in 1794. Twenty-first century readers may find themselves challenged by the style. Here is Wanda’s recommended reading instructions for The Mysteries of Udolpho:

1. Practice your patience. Readers in the 18th century weren’t in a rush and didn’t expect lean prose or fast plot development. Don’t read to a deadline if you can help it—trying to rush throu
...more
emily
Mar 13, 2010 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
...more
Olivier Delaye
Jun 09, 2012 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?

OLIVIER DELAYE
Author of the SEBASTEN OF ATLANTIS series
The Forgotten Goddess (Sebasten of Atlantis, #1) by Olivier Delaye
Pink
Nov 21, 2014 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.
Rebecca McNutt
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
Candi Criddle
Dec 03, 2008 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
Abi
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
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
Bookish Ally
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
If you shy away from sentiment, this is not the book for you. In this amazing piece of gothic romance you will travel to many richly described places in the French & Italian landscapes as well as deep into the thoughts of a 16th century lady of noble birth. It is,perhaps, not accurate but I feel that many of her thoughts, feelings and concerns that relate to the actions or affect of other characters is a better reflection of the moral climate of the 18th century but I found this book fascina ...more
Meg
Dec 30, 2011 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,
...more
Wreade1872
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
...more
Bri Fidelity
I can't lie and pretend that reading this wasn't hard graft, because it was. But there are some long, genuinely entertaining stretches in here (see: Volume II) among all the longueurs and landscapegasms (see: Volume I), and at least now I'll be able to read Northanger Abbey without wondering if I'm missing out on the jokes.

(view spoiler)
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Vathek
  • Camilla
  • The Castle of Wolfenbach: A German Story
  • The Orphan of the Rhine
  • Melmoth the Wanderer
  • Uncle Silas
  • Clermont
  • Amelia
  • The Old English Baron
  • Zofloya
  • The Midnight Bell
  • The Castle of Otranto
  • The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle
  • The Necromancer, or The Tale of the Black Forest
  • Emmeline
  • The Female Quixote
  • The Bride of Lammermoor (Tales of My Landlord #3 part 1)
  • The Monk
See similar books…
319 followers
Ann Radcliffe was an English author, a pioneer of the gothic novel.

Radcliffe was born Ann Ward. Her father, William, was a haberdasher, who moved the family to Bath to manage a china shop in 1772. Radcliffe occasionally lived with her uncle, Thomas Bentley, in Chelsea, who was in partnership with a fellow Unitarian, Josiah Wedgwood. Although mixing in some distinguished circles, Radcliffe seems to
...more
“I ought not to doubt the steadiness of your affection, yet 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, and thus it is, that I always feel revived, as by a new conviction, when your words tell me I am dear to you; and, wanting these, I relapse into doubt, and too often into despondency.” 61 likes
“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.” 53 likes
More quotes…