Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ann Radcliffe

Ann Radcliffe lived and wrote contemporaneously with Walter Scott.  Mrs. Radcliffe, as she published her name, wrote of the supernatural, though with reasoned understanding of its evidence.  Radcliffe wrote some of the earliest gothic novels, being best known for "The Mysteries of Udolfo".  Regarding her writing, Ann said: "Terror and horror are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul, and awakes the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes, and nearly annihilates them. I apprehend that neither Shakespeare nor Milton by their fictions, nor Mr. Burke by his reasoning, anywhere looked to positive horror as a source of the sublime, though they all agree that terror is a very high one; and there lies the great difference between horror and terror, but in uncertainty and obscurity, that accompany the first, respecting the dreader evil. "(from http://home.clara.net/heureka/art/radcliff.htm)

"A Sicilian Romance" was Radcliffe's second novel, which Walter Scott regarded as the first English poetical novel.  Scott wrote a short biography of Ann Radcliffe in his "Biographical Memoirs of Eminent Novelists, and Other Distinguished Persons".  Speaking of Radcliffe's early works, Scott wrote that:

"...Mrs. Radcliffe's genius was more advantageously displayed in the Sicilian Romance which appeared in 1790...This work displays the exuberance and fertility of imagination, which was the author's principal characteristic..."

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