Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

The Mysteries of UdolphoThe Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Mysteries of Udolpho was published on May 1794. The book introduces to the readers the Gothic genre: terror, castles, supernatural events, and many pictures of landscapes: cliffs in moonlight, or beneath the shade of tree (obscurity), or the Power of Nature.

Description of landscapes:

‘The deep repose of the scene, the rich scents, that floated on the breeze, the grandeur of the wide horizon and of the clear blue arch, soothed and gradually elevated her mind to that sublime complacency, which renders the vexations of this world so insignificant and mean in our eyes, that we wonder they have had power for a moment to disturb us. Emily forgot Madame Cheron and all the circumstances of her conduct, while her thoughts ascended to the contemplation of those numbered worlds, that lie scattered in the depths of aether, thousands of them hid from human eyes, and almost beyond the flight of human fancy.’

Supernatural events:

‘Dark power! with shuddering, meek submitted thoughts. Be mine to read the visions old which thy awakening bards have told, And, lest they meet my blasted view, Hold each strange tale devoutly true.’


‘A fresher air came to her face, as she unclosed the door, which opened upon the east rampart, and the sudden current had nearly extinguished her light, which she now removed to a distance; and again, looking out upon the obscure terrace, she perceived only the faint outline of the walls and of some towers, while, above, heavy clouds, borne along the wind, seemed to mingle with the stars, and wrap the night in thicker darkness.’

Towards light:

‘But soon, even this light faded fast, and the scenery assumed a more tremendous appearance, invested with the obscurity of twilight. Where the torrent had been seen, it was now only heard; where the wild cliffs had displayed every variety of form and attitude, a dark mass of mountains now alone appeared; and the vale, which far, far below had opened its dreadful chasm, the eye could no longer fathom. A melancholy gleam still lingered on the summits of the highest Alps, overlooking the deep repose of evening, and seeming to make the stillness of the hour more awful.’

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