I went back to the Wikipedia article on gothic fiction today and Daniel Radcliffe is no longer Ann Radcliffe’s brother. It was fun while it lasted!
I’m reading Mysteries of Udolpho on my kindle and am about 20% of the way through. Our heroine Emily is about to be whisked away to Italy with her aunt. Of the first 20% of the book I’d say three quarters of it is spent on Emily and her father traveling through the Pyrenees, making the acquaintance of Valancourt, and wandering some more always admiring the sublime scenery. There is so much scenery that I had to wonder what the heck is going on?
Well, it turns out that the book was published just about the time Romantic ideals were starting to percolate. Ah, sublime nature! If one can be moved by it then one is brought closer to the Creator. So Emily, her father and Valancourt are being shown as good people who understand and appreciate the important spiritual, intellectual and authentic life. They are what we should aspire to be.
Then Emily is cast out from this little paradise by the death of her father. She is forced to go live with her aunt in Toulouse. Madame Cheron, soon to be Montoni, presents a tidy contrast. Her life and those with whom she associates is all about money, ostentatious displays of wealth, and artifice. And it is about to become very dangerous for our poor heroine.
Will Emily’s authentic self survive? Oh but this is a gothic novel. She will pass through perils, shed so many more tears that the river she has already created with them will flood, but no doubt she will survive and have a happy ending. I just have a lot of pages before Emily will get there. But it is fun in spite of the river of Emily’s tears, all the sublime scenery, and not much else happening. Though it is beginning to get interesting because of the jealous cruelty of Madame Cheron/Montoni and hints of secrets. It is even starting to feel a bit Wilkie Collins-y.
So it appears that Mysteries of Udolpho has wormed its way into being my wild card RIP book. I am going to save The Others for October. I want it to be cool and gloomy and the leaves off the trees. I want some goosebumps. Until then Udolpho should keep me tripping along.