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on 18 October 2012
Written in 1797 this was the last novel published by Ann Radcliffe before she died. Believed to be written as a response to Matthew Gregory Lewis' "The Monk". More poetic than Lewis and in this reviewers opinion, a better writer, Radcliffe seems to chooses power as the cause rather than Lewis' thoughts which are about sexuality. "The Italian" is a blockbuster of a gothic novel and with an introduction by Kathryn White this book is implausibly cheap as well as fantastic.
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on 25 February 2012
Published in 1797 this was the final novel from one of the early initiators of Gothic Romance - and many would say the genre's queen. The story begins as a Romeo and Juliet type affair: Vivaldi has fallen for Ellena, an enigmatic orphan, but his family strongly oppose the match. The plot moves fast, with lots of gorgeous descriptions of travel in the Alps and across Italy, and it takes in along the way many of the deliciously overwrought staples of the genre: ghostly appearances, deathbed confessions, evil priests, sequestered monasteries and even the Inquisition. But the main attraction is surely the dark character of Father Schedoni, the confessor of Vivaldi's mother, who, once drawn in to oppose the match using any means possible, finds his own shady past and web of deceit begins to unravel.

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.
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on 24 May 2018
Really good book for an English Lit class
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on 7 April 2013
A good book, cover makes it seem much, much scarier than the book actually is. Arrived quickly and a good quality too.
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on 7 April 2017
Book was in very good condition. Thumbs up.
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on 27 October 2014
Nicely done although disappointingly it misses out the introductory section which in my view is an integral part of the novel..
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on 6 March 2013
Imagine my surprise when I came to Chapter 5 of the book and found that it is missing! Just to be sure, I checked out a print copy of the book and chapter 5 is there - it details Vivaldi's investigation into Lady Bianchi's death.

<Groan> As they say, if you buy cheap, you buy twice! I still cannot understand how they could have missed out a whole chapter??? Now I have to buy again...
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on 12 August 2014
Rear the monk too if you haven't read it..
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on 8 April 2018
sent to my wife.
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on 8 October 2013
I've been reading a lot of Ann Radcliffe lately for a course on Gothic Literature I have been doing and this is the best one of hers I've read to date. (**I should just say, I've read A Sicilian Romance, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Castles of Athlin and Dunblane, but not read the posthumous one or The Romance of the Forest as yet). So perhaps I should have called this review "Best to date" or something like that. However, I can't see how it's going to get any better than this one. Whereas A Sicilian Romance is all high-octane non-stop action which leaves you breathless, and The Mysteries is a stately pace through the Appennines, this one, to me, seems to be paced just perfectly. There's enough action to keep your sympathies engaged utterly with the hapless heroine and enough dark mystery (including an appearance by the Italian inquisition) to keep it rooted in its Gothic tradition.

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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