The Italian
The Italian The Italian

London: T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies. 1797.

First edition. Three volumes. 12mo. 180x108mm. pp. Vol.1: xii, 336; Vol.2: [i], 360; Vol.3: [1], 444.  Bound in contemporary calf, gilt wavy dotted line to borders of the covers. Spines attractively decorated with flowers and leaves in gilt, contrasting labels, lettered and numbered in gilt. Some rubbing, scuffing to covers of volume one. Joints strengthened. Contents are in very good condition.  B6 and B7 (pp 11-14) of volume two are supplied from another copy of the first edition and have lightly toned edges. Top right corner of four leaves (Q9-Q12) have a tear but no loss of text. Ownership inscription of L.S. Ramsden. Overall a very nice set in an attractive contemporary binding. 

Is there such a thing as the “Female Gothic”? If there is then “It is Radcliffe’s novels with their heroines in flight from male tyrants across fantastical landscapes and in search of lost mothers entombed in womb-like dungeons beneath patriarchal castles which we now tend to characterise as the beginnings of ‘Female Gothic’.” (Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith). The Italian, the last novel which Radcliffe published in her lifetime, conforms to many of the conventions of the Gothic novel and relies heavily on the “pathetic fallacy”. But Radcliffe’s work is notable for its superb characterisation and especially her demonic villains. Forget tedious questions about gendered fiction: read the books and wallow in the Sublime and the Beautiful.