Travel with Sensibility: Ann Radcliffe's Picturesque Narrative in The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian

  • 張 雨涵

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Ann Radcliffe’s landscape descriptions in her gothic fiction were widely discussed and praised among her contemporary readers at a time of the popularity of travel literature; however modern readers often complain of its repetitive and over-abundant narration and critics nowadays seldom analyze the landscape decoration from a point of view other than its function of gothic atmospheric evocation This thesis seeks to examine the relation between Ann Radcliffe’s literary portrayal of picturesque landscapes and the formation of her story characters and by extension to reveal certain social conditions of eighteenth-century England as encrypted in that relationship The discussion in the thesis is limited to the authoress’s two latest novels The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian in which scenic delineation is employed pervasively in a large extent and features the same country Italy Serving as a framework for the following discussion the first chapter offers a brief introduction of William Gilpin’s concept of picturesque travel known as an inspiration for Mrs Radcliffe’s creation of her Gothic setting; then the chapter brings out the eighteenth-century discourse of sensibility to emphasize the relation between aesthetic experience and physical susceptibility The second chapter in terms of two different concepts gender and class aims to explore the virtuous characters’ aesthetic responses to landscapes; with a reading of eighteenth-century British social context the chapter means to further demonstrate that these characters’ different social backgrounds reflect faithfully on their aesthetic tastes In order to illustrate Mrs Radcliffe’s moral vision in her gothic romances the third chapter turns to investigate the immoral characters’ apathy towards landscapes and their paradoxical affinity with the (wild) nature Through her picturesque narrative Mrs Radcliffe not only successfully shapes each of her characters but also persists in her conservative strain of Gothicism that differentiates her work from the sensationalism of the school of horror
Date of Award2014 Feb 6
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMin-tser Lin (Supervisor)

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