The Mysteries of Udolpho, a Romance;
Interspersed with some pieces of poetry.London: printed for G. G. and J. Robinson, 1794 Stock Code: 146531
First edition of one of the founding texts of Gothic literature, the fourth and most popular novel by Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823), pioneer of the Gothic novel. Through The Mysteries of Udolpho, Radcliffe is particularly responsible for popularizing the "haunted castle" Gothic trope, Udolpho being directly parodied in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, and influencing many other, later books such as Wilkie Collins' Woman in White. Even into the 20th century, the atmosphere of Udolpho lingered to haunt books such as Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.
Radcliffe is particularly notable for helping the Gothic novel attain public palatability by concluding each book's bout of supernatural terrors with a rational explanation (the format followed by each episode of Scoobie Doo is, of course, Radcliffe's); intriguingly, though Monk Lewis was directly inspired to write his infamous The Monk by reading The Mysteries of Udolpho, Radcliffe thought that the sheer and inconsolable "horror" evoked in The Monk, and in much consequent Gothic fiction, was an unwelcome departure from the more salubrious "terror" effected in her own works, a distinction she made explicitly in her posthumously published essay "On The Supernatural in Poetry": "Terror and Horror are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes, and nearly annihilates them". In this way, Udolpho came to be seen as the original archetype of "terror Gothic", as opposed to The Monk's "horror Gothic".
A very attractively presented copy, in a contemporary binding with all the half-titles present, of a scarce and influential book.
4 volumes, duodecimo (178 x 104 mm). Contemporary calf, twin red morocco labels to spines, smooth spines tooled in gilt.
Complete with half-title in each volume. Joints and extremities expertly restored, contents with some light foxing and occasional soiling, a few minor peripheral short closed tears. A very attractive copy.
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