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Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho

Denise
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Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho

Postby Denise » Sat May 29th, 2010, 3:32 am

After reading Northanger Abbey I got interested in Udolpho due to Austen's several references to it. I have now read that book with considerable pleasure but am puzzled by the novel's heroine Emily St Aubert. Her father taught her to avoid excessive sentimentality and keep her emotions under control, yet she is weeping and swooning and staggering about due to some emotional meltdown in every other scene in which she appears.

I believe I can propose with considerable confidence that Radcliffe has created, in Emily, the most sentimental and weepiest character in the history of English, or probably any other, literature. Is Emily a typical Gothic heroine? Was this normal female behavior in the late 18th century? Or perhaps it was just the style of the era's literature to make the protagonists emotional since all the non-evil men were weepers also, but not in the same class as Emily.

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Sat May 29th, 2010, 11:33 pm

"Denise" wrote:After reading Northanger Abbey I got interested in Udolpho due to Austen's several references to it. I have now read that book with considerable pleasure but am puzzled by the novel's heroine Emily St Aubert. Her father taught her to avoid excessive sentimentality and keep her emotions under control, yet she is weeping and swooning and staggering about due to some emotional meltdown in every other scene in which she appears.

I believe I can propose with considerable confidence that Radcliffe has created, in Emily, the most sentimental and weepiest character in the history of English, or probably any other, literature. Is Emily a typical Gothic heroine? Was this normal female behavior in the late 18th century? Or perhaps it was just the style of the era's literature to make the protagonists emotional since all the non-evil men were weepers also, but not in the same class as Emily.


It's part of the fashion for 'sensibility' which Austen mocks in Sense and Sensibility, but the Gothic heroine was particularly mocked for fainting and weeping one minute, intrepidly exploring bloodstained passages the next, as the plot demanded. So yes, I think Emily was typical, and indeed a prototype since the novel was hugely successful. And nothing's changed - look at Bella Swan.

If you liked Udolpho, I recommend The Romance of the Forest, and also Regina Roche's The Children of the Abbey.

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sat May 29th, 2010, 11:39 pm

I have Romance of the Forest on the pile as well as another Radcliff title (the name escapes me at the moment).
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Sat May 29th, 2010, 11:43 pm

"Misfit" wrote:I have Romance of the Forest on the pile as well as another Radcliff title (the name escapes me at the moment).


Romance of the Forest takes a different turn 2/3 of the way through and really stops being a Gothic novel - but the Gothic bits are so wonderful that it's worth the read.

The next Gothic novel I've got on my TBR pile is Clermont also by Roche. I've also tried a couple of times to read Uncle Silas and determined to finish it one day.

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Misfit
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Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sun May 30th, 2010, 12:49 am

Have you ever tried Bungay Castle by Elizabeth Bonhote? Talk about your first teen detectives in a novel, at times you'd swear you were watching the Scooby Gang. It really was a lot of fun though.

Image
At home with a good book and the cat...

...is the only place I want to be

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Miss Moppet
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Postby Miss Moppet » Sun May 30th, 2010, 1:27 am

"Misfit" wrote:Have you ever tried Bungay Castle by Elizabeth Bonhote? Talk about your first teen detectives in a novel, at times you'd swear you were watching the Scooby Gang. It really was a lot of fun though.

Image


:D Yes I want to read Bungay Castle - going to try to get the library to order it, when I remember.

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Misfit
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Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sun May 30th, 2010, 1:36 am

"Miss Moppet" wrote: :D Yes I want to read Bungay Castle - going to try to get the library to order it, when I remember.


I'd send you my copy but it would cost as much as buying one unfortunately. No media mail US to UK :mad:
At home with a good book and the cat...

...is the only place I want to be

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LoveHistory
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Postby LoveHistory » Sun May 30th, 2010, 12:13 pm

Don't forget the "first" Gothic, Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto.

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Tue June 1st, 2010, 7:36 pm

These classic gothic books you're talking about are ones I've never heard of, but sound like something I'd really like. I think I've already added at least 10 books to my Amazon shopping list since joining this forum, just from perusing other members' comments. :)

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LoveHistory
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Postby LoveHistory » Tue June 1st, 2010, 11:27 pm

Added bonus: The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk, and The Romance of the Forest are all mentioned in Jane Austen books.


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