The Mysteries of Udolpho: A Romance in a (Not Quite) Religious Context

Rob Rosenthal '93, English 32, 1990

Within a religious context, both "Tintern Abbey" and The Mysteries of Udolpho share a very similar philosophy of Nature worship. Each piece can be read aloud to sound like so-called "spilled religion" with little difficulty, and can also be read to sound like a sort of pagan erotica with even less. The authors revel in their language and the characters revel in their love, and the technique and the content combine to form a prayer that has more in common with speaking in tongues than anything else. Other sections of "Tintern Abbey" are more subdued, as would befit a narrator who has grown beyond animal passions, but the whole of Udolpho is one continuous stream of awe, desire, and love.

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