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Présentation de l'éditeur

With its insightful portrayals of her protagonist's inner life, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho was a hugely influential work of early Gothic horror. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Jacqueline Howard. Emily St Aubert lives with her loving, enlightened parents in exquisitely happy rural isolation. But when she is tragically orphaned, the beautiful young woman is thrown on the mercy of her heartless aunt's sinister new husband. The villainous Signor Montoni has designs upon his wife's fortune, and that of her niece, and imprisons them in the gloomy medieval castle Udolpho. Separated from her beloved Valancourt, Emily must cope with torments of wild imaginings and terrors, as ghostly omens and attempts upon her virtue and life threaten to overwhelm her. One of the most popular novels of its time, The Mysteries of Udolpho continues to grip readers with its vivid characters, its sublime Alpine settings and its dramatic sense of suspense and danger. In her introduction, Jacqueline Howard discusses the novel's huge success when it was first published, its place as a groundbreaking work of the Gothic genre, and Radcliffe's imaginative use of history, poetry, landscape and the supernatural. This edition also includes further reading, a chronology, and notes. Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) was the leading exponent of Gothic fiction. During her lifetime she published five novels including A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797), as well as a collection of European travel writings. Her novels were immensely popular, and much imitated. If you enjoyed The Mysteries of Udolpho, you might like Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings, also available in Penguin Classics.

Biographie de l'auteur

Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) was the leading exponent of Gothic fiction. During her lifetime she published five novels including A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797), as well as a collection of European travel writings. Her novels were immensely popular and much imitated.Jacqueline Howard is Co-ordinator of English and Languages at St. Mary's College in Adelaide, South Australia, and author of 'Reading Gothic Fiction: A Bakhtinian Approach'.



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On the pleasant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Gascony, stood, in the year 1584, the chateau of Monsieur St Aubert. Lire la première page
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Amazon.com: 41 commentaires
104 internautes sur 109 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Literary Perfection 10 novembre 2001
Par Daniel Jolley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I fear I don't have the words to fully explain just how important, enjoyable, and breath-taking this novel is to me; The Mysteries of Udolpho is simply one of the greatest written works ever produced. While this is a Gothic novel, arguably the greatest Gothic novel ever written, it is so much more than that. "Gothic" denotes dark castles, spectral haunts, dastardly deeds performed by cruel, mysterious men--certainly these elements are here. However, a large portion of this novel is simply beautiful--no one I know of has ever described the simple grandeur of life and nature or waxed more poetically on the noble merits of love and honor as does Ann Radcliffe.
Emily is one of the most memorable characters in all of fiction. To be frank, I simply fell in love with her. Through her, I was able to not only see but to better appreciate life itself and the simple beauties it manifests. When she was hurt or pained, I shared her sorrow; many times, I felt compelled to jump up and somehow defend her against the monstrous injustices inflicted upon her. I admired her morality and deep commitment to honor, a commitment so deep that she sacrificed in deference to it her own deep love for Valancourt, a love so deep that it alone allowed her to withstand the horrors of Count Montoni and the castle of Udolpho. Certainly, Emily is very sensitive and overdramatic, and she does tend to faint a lot, but she is a pure angel to someone like myself who is a Victorian at heart.
The Gothic horror is very well done, but it does not take up nearly as much of the novel as I had anticipated. Radcliffe can bring chills to readers even today. The description of someone's silent entry by night into Emily's room is spine-tingling, as are the descriptions of Emily's reluctant journeys down to the catacombs beneath the castle. The wide-eyed Annette's rambling descriptions of supernatural manifestations feed Emily's and the reader's own fears. Emily escapes from the nefarious castle about two-thirds of the way through the novel, but a number of strange events at Chateau-le-Blanc quickly serve to return the reader to the dark dimensions of fright. At that point, I wondered how so much story could be left to tell, but Radcliffe introduced new characters and new situations as compelling as those that had come before and succeeded in absorbing me even further into this world of her creation. Lady Blanche inspired in me many of the feelings I felt for Emily, and the resulting story not only added much to the experience of this novel but ultimately helped to tie many threads together. The experience of Emily and Annette in the late Countess' room, shut up for 20 years since the lady's mysterious death, was as frightening as any scene that took place inside the walls of Udolpho. I did worry as I neared the final pages that Radcliffe would not successfully explain everything that had taken place or would leave some loose ends dangling--the only thing I was left wondering, however, was what happened to the dog Emily took with her to Udolpho after she escaped.
I wish I could mention all of the wonderful characters and all of the scenes and events, both beautiful and horrific, to be found in these pages. These were times when I literally had to put one hand across the page to keep from jumping ahead to see what was about to happen. I do want to stress the beauty and romance of the novel because these aspects are overshadowed by the perception people have of Gothic literature. The story of Emily and Valancourt is one of the greatest love stories in literature. Future readers, please don't pick the novel up until such a time as you are truly committed to reading it; it is rather long, and this is not a novel you will want to lay aside for several days at a time. Also, the first 100 pages or so are somewhat hard to get through. Radcliffe paints a living portrait of nature in these pages, describing more details than I could ever even hope to witness. You won't encounter the Gothic horror you may be expecting until you get rather deeply into the story, so keep that in mind. Approach this novel as you would a work of art because that is exactly what it is.
42 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An important and a grand novel 14 septembre 2003
Par Paul J. Rask - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
When published in 1794, this lengthy tale of romance and intrigue became a best-seller, reportedly the first best-seller ever. When reading it, one can very well imagine the author -- a reclusive English lady -- writing this story for her own entertainment and as a record of her own day dreams, her intimate flights of fancy.
There is no question that the sweet, suffering, intelligent, compassionate, level-headed, courageous Emily St. Aubuert of the story is the author's other self, the self she imagines herself to be. The trials she faces as her other self, she faces with courage and intelligence and outstanding patience: the loss of parents, the awful tyranny of her aunt with whom she has been placed as a ward, the terror of the Archvillain Montoni who kept her captive in the remote, ghostly castle of Udolpho and her daring escape -- all were most likely Ms. Radcliffe's day dreams set to paper. Afterall, she was childless and well-bred and in those times, there was little for a well-educated lady of her class do but to read and dream and write.
And she developed her craft grandly. Her descriptions of scenery, the locations of each set-piece of her novel are vivid and memorable. She had an eye for the sweep of detail of a landscape, a forest, a plain, a mountain and she had the talent of painting her scenes under shrouds of mystery and melancholy.
Emily's love affair with the chevalier Valancourt to whom she gave her entire capacity for love, and his betrayal of it and proof of his unworthiness, comes as a disappointment. But then, at the end there is a reconciliation and appropriate romantic solution of the problem, however unlikely.
The novel is long, too long, really. But for the era it was written, when time was more abundant, such lengths are understandable and acceptable.
It is said, with accuracy in my opinion, that this is an important novel for those who study English-American literature because it is the forerunner of the gothic novels that have earned a large modern following. And the way to read it, is not to hurry through the pages, but to relax and relish Ms. Radcliffe's marvelous descriptions which serve as delicious backdrops to her romantic melodrama.
16 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Mysteries of Udolpho: real and imagined 20 avril 2007
Par Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
On one level, this novel defies categorisation. Yes, the Gothic web of mystery and intrigue is obvious. And so too are the beautiful descriptions of nature, the struggle between good and evil, the noble acts of heroism and the ignoble acts of greed.

Anne Radcliffe has taken all of these components and distilled an imaginative creation that still, some 213 years after publication, catches the imagination of the reader. If you do choose to read this glorious novel, make sure that you are prepared for a pace which relies more on descriptive prose and less on implied actions. Set aside the time to immerse yourself in the setting and enjoy the journey.

This is not a novel to be rushed, it is a novel to be savoured.

Ann Radcliffe was 30 years old the year this novel was published. What an accomplished and imaginative young woman she must have been.

Highly recommended.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Year of Living Dangerously 19 décembre 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Though this is a coming of age story, Emily St. Aubert never strays far from the womblike enclosure of a house, carriage, or prison. She trips away from home seeking the beauty of nature, but inevitably she is brought back by the voice of her saintly father, a disapproving aunt, or "ghosts" in the forest. Walls confine and protect Emily during her difficult transformation from child to woman.
The simple and elegant chateau where the genial heroine grew up is a "resort of love, of joy, of peace and plenty". As the sole surviving child, she is cherished by her parents who lead a sublime existence amidst surrounding acres of beautiful forests, a river, mountains, and plains. Unlike most Renaissance women, Emily is very well educated. Most of her idle hours are spent writing poetry, reading, and wandering through the woods. She is also a gifted singer and enjoys playing the lute and sketching. The heroine of The Mysteries of Udolpho is difficult to forget. Indeed, one of the best features of this book is the variety of well-drawn characters.
Shortly after the story begins, Emily and her ailing father embark on a journey by carriage through the backwoods of southern France. From the window of the carriage, Emily views seascapes, grassy knolls, wildflowers, flocks of sheep, dark forests and the towering Alps. Radcliffe uses vivid imagery, but it can be tiresome after two or three consecutive paragraphs of landscape description intermixed with the travelers' meditations on the scenery.
A few months after this journey Emily becomes the reluctant ward of her social climbing aunt. She is trapped in Aunt Cheron's tacky house which is filled with large furniture, servants in spiffy uniforms, and gaudy decorations.
She escapes that monstrous house and arrives in Venice at the time of the Carnival. From the balcony of her uncle's desolate mansion on the Adriatic, Emily discovers a group of revelers dressed as nymphs floating along the canal. The incident inspires her to write a poem called "The Sea-Nymph" about a naiad who sings songs to sad sailors. If Poseidon finds out, he chains her to a rock till the sailors go away. The Poseidon character represents Signor Montoni, the tyrant whose domineering will and avarice threaten to destroy Emily's plans for happiness. Here, as elsewhere, Radcliffe's use of poetry enhances the story and provides a window into the subconscious mind.
Under mysterious circumstances, Mademoiselle Emily and her incongruous family leave Venice at the break of dawn. Montoni is the only one of the three who knows why they are going to Udolpho, a gargantuan castle situated near a waterfall, surrounded by a dark forest and mountains on all sides. Strong sexual overtones in the Udolpho chapters contribute to making this novel an exasperatingly prudish masterpiece of pornography. The well orchestrated action scenes, subtle humor, and chilling suspense are also noteworthy.
There is a connection between this castle and the next stop on Emily's itinerary: Chateau-le-Blanc, an abandoned estate bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Within this house, Emily discovers a clue about her father's mysterious past. Here also is the scene of Emily's heartbreaking reunion with Vallencourt, the carefree traveler she met in the French Alps.
Like many other coming of age stories, Udolpho deals with the subject of emerging sexuality and the male/female dynamic. Physical attraction, a vital element of romantic love, appears missing in Emily's relationship with Vallencourt - a weak hero. Nevertheless, Emily views Vallencourt as marriage material. He is allot like her father: benevolent, gentle, honest, and spiritually oriented.
In contrast, Montoni reveals himself to be a selfish, domineering, dishonest and violent man. And yet Radcliffe has decided to add virility and good looks to this character's makeup. As a result, an undercurrent of incest pervades the story. Emily's feelings towards Montoni are revealed when she finds herself confused as to why she wants to see him in the Condottieri uniform. Montoni is a far more potent figure than her own lover. Emily herself overpowers Vallencourt in every scene, and it is to her credit that she can hold her own with Montoni. The contrast between the hero and villain is an honest portrayal of how women often divide men into two categories: good/safe-impotent, bad/sexy.
Love problems lead Emily to accept a longstanding invitation to visit the convent of St. Clair. During a grueling interview with Sister Agnes, the mad nun, Emily discovers a shocking secret about her family history. It is in this seaside convent that the reader encounters, in it's worst aspect, the real horror of the book: the dark side of human nature.
All things dark fascinate the gothic writer. It is no wonder that ominous gothic buildings loom prominently in these stories. Their fantastic design, intricate detail and deep shadows inspire dread. And that is one of the primary functions of gothic fiction - to inspire fear and awe. The term "Gothic fiction" is derived from the gothic architecture of buildings in these novels. But Radcliffe, who defined the genre, does not limit her visual scope to gothic settings. As Emily finds out, the mysteries of Udolpho extend beyond the walls of that ancient edifice. A clue to one of the mysteries is found in Emily's modest home. But it is not until she leaves her home that she discovers this.
It is during her year of travels that Emily comes of age legally. In the beginning of the book she is still a naive young girl who loves listening to Madame Quesnel's description of the splendor of the balls, banquets, and processions at court. During her travels she discovers that the world beyond her doorstep is full of hedonists, phonies, and scary people. The lesson of her yearlong journey is that there is no place like home. At the conclusion of the story the heroine becomes both legally and emotionally "of age". How Emily gains this wisdom is the stuff of this novel.
39 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
One amazing book! 21 octobre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I read Mysteries of Udolpho in my freshman year of high school. I had never heard of it before, aside from when I read Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. I discovered it on the internet, and the plot immediately intrigued me. I bought it the next chance I got, and I was not disappointed. I've read some reviews saying that the descriptions were too long, or the plot too tedious, and I am shocked. Ann Radcliffe's story, and style of writing are the best I've seen in my entire life. It's disappointing to know that she is not credited for her works as she should be. I consider Ann Radcliffe the best writer of all time, and Mysteries of Udolpho her greatest achievement. At first, I was a little worried about the size of the book, but that soon diminished when I discovered how fast-paced the novel was. I couldn't put the book down! When I grew near the end, I wished that there was more! I can safely say that if you enjoy gothic style novels, this will be the best one you have ever read! It is a must-read for everyone!
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