The haughty, manipulative Marchesa, determined to thwart the romance between her son, the young Neapolitan nobleman Vincentio di Vivaldi, and Elena di Rosalba, has enlisted the help of the villainous, scheming monk, Schedoni. With a livid paleness of face and a melancholy eye, whose brooding presence dominates the novel, Schedoni has become an archetype of Romantic literature.
From the first moment Vincentio di Vivaldi, a young nobleman, sets eyes on the veiled figure of Ellena, he is captivated by her enigmatic beauty and grace. But his haughty and manipulative mother is against the match and enlists the help of her confessor to come between them. Schedoni, previously a leading figure of the Inquisition, is a demonic, scheming monk with no qualms about the task, whether it entails abduction, torture - or even murder. The Italian secured Ann Radcliffe's position as the leading writer of Gothic romance of the age, for its atmosphere of supernatural and nightmarish horrors, combined with her evocation of sublime landscapes and chilling narrative.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) was the leading exponent of Gothic fiction and, during her lifetime, she published five novels including A Sicilian Romance (1790) and The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) as well as a collection of European travel writings. Her novels were immensely popular and much imitated.
Robert Miles teaches English at Sheffield Hallam University. He is the author of Gothic Writing (Routledge) and Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress (Manchester UP).
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