The Mysteries of Udolpho

Like The Romance of the Forest, The Mysteries of Udolpho epitomizes Radcliffe’s gothic style. The novel features feminine, sensitive, orphaned Emily St. Aubert, takes place in France and Italy, and includes suspenseful, supernatural yet rational elements. Emily, like Adeline, resists an unwanted marriage; Radcliffe seems to have imbued her with some independence, even as she remains deeply sentimental. The Mysteries of Udolpho was not as best-selling as The Romance of the Forest in its time, but, today, it is Radcliffe’s most well-known novel, certainly because Austen heavily alludes to the text in Northanger Abbey. The heroine, Catherine Morland, loves Gothic novels, and The Mysteries of Udolpho is a particular favorite. Austen famously satirizes the novel in her text, indicating that Catherine’s reading habits lead her to falsely believe that melodramatic and supernatural elements are happening in her own life. The tone may be parodic, but Northanger Abbey does convey the vast popularity of Gothic novels like The Mysteries of Udolpho among young women in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

A later edition of this work has been digitized and is available through HathiTrust.

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Ann Radcliffe (1764-1832)
The Mysteries of Udolpho
London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 1794