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The Mysteries of Udolpho

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  11,664 Ratings  ·  876 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
Paperback, 654 pages
Published April 26th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1794)
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Hanne Northanger Abbey was in part created as a parody of Mysteries of Udolpho....
Vanessa Norhausen That's really hard to answe. It's a gothic novel, but it doesn't really deal with the supernatural, and it's very different in style. personally, I'm…moreThat's really hard to answe. It's a gothic novel, but it doesn't really deal with the supernatural, and it's very different in style. personally, I'm not a fan of the writing but like the story well enough to keep reading.(less)

Community Reviews

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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 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
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
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.
Magrat Ajostiernos
No puedo puntuarlo porque lo abandoné en la página 500 más o menos (de 800)
La verdad que me estaba pareciendo un libro interesante, me encantan esas descripciones a lo Romanticismo alemán, y la segunda parte en el castillo me gustó mucho (la primera se me hizo bastante más pesada) pero llegado a cierto punto perdí el interés, y esta lectura requiere una constancia y unas ganas de las que carezco ahora mismo.

Entiendo que sea la cumbre la literatura gótica, ha sido too much gótica para mi xD

NO REC
...more
Sara
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
"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
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
Alex
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
"'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
Char
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Shelves: reviewed, gothic, own
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
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
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.
Pink
Nov 21, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Israel Montoya Baquero
Irregular, muy irregular este "Misterios de Udolfo" de Radcliffe.
He de reconocer que, debido a su tedioso y monótono comienzo, estuve tentado en más de una ocasión de abandonar la lectura del libro, ya que página tras página constataba que no pasaba absolutamente nada de nada, y la trama no avanzaba de ninguna manera que pudiese considerar atrayente o interesante.
¿Me alegro de no haber cedido al tedio y el aburrimiento producido por esas interminables 200 primeras páginas? Si, y no. Está claro q
...more
emily
Mar 13, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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
Candi
Dec 03, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Oct 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 05, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Repellent Boy
¡Por fin! Por poco no salgo vivo de este viaje jajaja. He sido bastante bueno con la nota, ya que, finalmente no me ha dejado un mal sabor de boca y tiene partes muy interesantes. ¿Cuál es el problema entonces? Muchos. Demasiados altibajos, excesivas narraciones, protagonista sosa hasta la saciedad,... La historia en cambio me ha gustado, me ha hecho descubrir la novela gótica y me ha dejado con ganas de leer más. Haré una reseña más completa en mi canal, porque hay mucho de lo que hablar.
Meg
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Teresa
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clásico de la literatura gótica en el que la ambientación es tanto o casi más importante que la propia trama. De ritmo muy pausado y con algunas reacciones de los personajes que hay que meterse en la época en que fue escrito para llegar a entenderlo de lo contrario puede llegar a ser exasperante. Recomendable leerlo pausadamente y estando acostumbrado a leer clásicos, tiene partes bastante densas.
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
Sarah
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this meandering tale. And I do mean it does meander :) The description on Goodreads is actually a bit deceptive because it only covers a portion of the book. Instead we get something more like a year or two in the life of the heroine, who, by the way, is one of the strongest heroines I've seen in any book. She stands on her own two feet and with a great deal of fortitude she manages to withstand things that are incredibly difficult. All with a minimum of fainting.

While the s
...more
Jamie
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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274 followers
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
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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.” 47 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.” 22 likes
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