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|Print List Price:||£2.99|
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Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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The Italian: Or the Confessional of the Black Penitents (Penguin Classics) New Ed Edition, Kindle Edition
|Length: 536 pages||Word Wise: Enabled|
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This is well worth a read, particularly if you are interested in the early history of the Gothic novel. Sadly the Kindle edition is riddled with typos, which - even for 77p - was a real shame.
There are some wonderful turns of phrase in this novel and some beautiful examples of writing which clearly illustrate why Ann Radcliffe was considered the Shakespeare of the Gothic novel. There's something rather heartless in the beginning in the manner in which Vivaldi pursues Ellena and effectively brings about her ruin, but at least he's constant to her and manages to rescue her from disrespectability even after it is he who has dragged her into it in the first place. All of her troubles can be placed firmly at his feet and his slightly ill-advised pursuit of her, even though he knows himself that his family will never approve of his courtship of her. Indeed, it's very touch and go at the end if they will ever win that approval - his father is ambivalent about bestowing his blessing on the pair right up to the final pages. Schedoni (the villain) is also ambivalent as a villain - he has moments of humanity and moments where he is the hero. Still, sadly, he's been villainous enough to justify his bad end. As usual, it's the peasant classes who provide the most entertainment - Paulo is fab and gets the final word in the novel.
This was Radcliffe's last novel published in her lifetime, due, some critics argue, to the fact that Matthew Lewis's The Monk had brought the genre into disrespectability and Radcliffe, "who's chief ambition was to be thought a lady" (Critical Review, June 1826), didn't like the way their names were linked within the genre of literature they were both writing. The Italian has also been described as Radcliffe's response to The Monk. I've read The Monk before and will be reading it again soon for my classes, so it should be interesting to see how they compare. I've got to say, from what I remember though, I prefer this version to Lewis's. I think that's because I'm a romantic.
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