- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 2 edition (Oct. 11 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199537402
- ISBN-13: 978-0199537402
- Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 2.5 x 13 cm
- Shipping Weight: 322 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #142,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Italian Paperback – Oct 11 2008
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"An ingenious performance." --Samuel Taylor Coleridge --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
E. J. Clery is Research Fellow in English at Sheffield Hallam University and author of The Rise of Supernatural Fiction 1762-1800 (1995). She has edited Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto in Oxford World's Classics.
Top Customer Reviews
I found myself wondering why the story went the way it did because on so many occasions it didn't feel quite unified (especially when Vincentio was being tried). It was interesting to follow Ellena yet I didn't quite see the point of it until her parentage came into play (although the struggle of their love because of her perceived low-birth felt pointless at the end) and by then it felt too late despite how relevant it was. I think I would have enjoyed the story more were the viewpoints not so separate but I understand why they were like that - I just wish it didn't stay so long with one person.
I'm glad for yet another good example of Gothic horror but I don't think I'd read this again - it's not completely out of the question but it wasn't as strong an example because of the weird journeys the plot went on. At least it wasn't a tragic end but it felt like too long a read and the POVs were too broken up for me to find it an enjoyable read outside of research.
Published in 1796, "The Italian" became an instant success, cementing the fame of Ann Radcliffe among the liteary circle. Her name has been already well-known with her previous work "The Mysteries of Udolpho" two years before, but in my book this follow-up is better than the other. Of course, it depends on your view which is superior, but it is commonly agreed that Ann Radcliffe's position in the history of English literature is secured by those two Gothic classics, which clearly gave inspiration to Jane Austen, who wrote the joyful "Northanger Abbey."
The story is rather simple in the beginning. It tells of a romantic love of young dashing nobleman Vivaldi in Naples, who falls in love with a girl Ellena. But his plan of marriage is soon interrupted by the vicious monk Schedoni. Then ensue abduction, murder (attempted or not), and the Inquisition. There are lot of suspense, terror, and thrill that come from the fluent narrative of Radcliffe, who knows how to engage the readers' attention. (And thankfully, "The Italian" is free from any lengthy poems that are found aplenty among "Udolpho.")
To be sure, the third part of the book is damaged by its too complicated relations between characters, and too rapid pen of the author to wrap up the events with rational explanations about the mysterious things in the first part of the book, but the whole book manages to sustain our interest to the end. Radcliffe's effusive descriptions of landscapes (with a little sentimental touch) found in "Udolpho" are gone (but not completely), and the plot is tightly knit so that we can enjoy the fast-paced adventure of the hero and the heroine. The best part of the book is, probably, the middle section where the hero, with his comic relief side-kick, tries to escape from the sinister convent where the heroine is confined to be forced to take a veil. It's a real page-turner which would put many of today's bestselling author to deserved shame.
One of the best Gothic novels ever written, "The Italian" is still a gripping tale. Most regrettabe thing is that the author Radcliffe stopped writing totally after this book for the rest of her life (she died in 1823). Considering the fact that she had never been to Italy (she travelled abroad only once, in Netherland and Germany), and that her sublime landscapes are proof of her amazingly imaginative power, her early retirement should be lamented by all of us. But we must be content with what is left. Enjoy this one.
THE PENGUIN EDITION published in 2000 has 10 pages of excerpts from comtemporary reviews, which would help readers with academic purpose.