Book Review: The Mysteries of Udoplho by Ann Radcliffe


Format:  Paperback

Pages: 693 pages

Published:  1794

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Classics




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 the order of the day. With its dream-like plot and hallucinatory rendering of its characters’ psychological states, The Mysteries of Udolpho is a fascinating challenge to contemporary readers.

The Mysteries of Udolpho is a very long and densely written novel. It took me a real long time to finish this one. The writing is very inconsistent, Radcliffe drags on for a very long time. It took at least a third of the novel to get to the main part of the story. As customary with 18th century novels, authors can sometimes be repetitive in their text.But with Radcliffe, she goes over the top. Radcliffe gets real repetitive and there are times you either had a hard time following what was going on in the plot or bored of reading of the book altogether. I completely understand why some readers dislike this book.

Although at times this was a difficult book to get through, I surprisingly enjoyed this novel. The descriptive language was beautiful. When Radcliffe was describing the landscape of France and Italy, the illustrated landscape was so vivid it was like that you were really there. It made the story more appealing and interesting and even though the descriptions could drag on, it had the power to keep pulling you more into the story.

The house, Udolpho, acts more like a character and I think The Mysteries of Udolpho is a great example of personification working at its best. Udolpho had all the fears and emotions that similarly displayed in the main character, Emily. I loved how Radcliffe used this technique to increase the gothic and mysterious nature of  the house. Any revelation has you instantly floored because of these characteristics and honestly, you immediately forgive Radcliffe for her long, long statements and tedious length.

This book will frustrate you but the reason that I loved this novel is that it can be analyzed. Love it or hate it, you never run out of things to talk about. You are trying to figure out what message was trying to be conveyed, what Radcliffe mean by placing a certain element in the plot, etc. So if you decide to read this book, prepare yourself for a long ride. However, look forward to talk about this book for a long time.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository | Your local library

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Mysteries of Udoplho by Ann Radcliffe

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