Friday, October 5, 2012

The Italian Readalong: Week I

I've now read the first 9 chapters in The Italian, and I'm quite enjoying it, how about you?  I have questions:

Is the mysterious monk who warns Vivaldi also Schedoni, or is it a different monk?

You know Ellena is going to turn out to be high-born; what will her family history be?

Vivaldi may be the most sensitive hero I've ever read about.  He is wonderfully high-minded and noble.  And I rather like Ellena--she's intelligent, which isn't as common in a heroine as I would like.  Of course, Vivaldi  falls in love at first sight, but you can't have a hero going around getting to know girls before he falls for them, that wouldn't be right.  Ellena actually seems to take a little longer, which is interesting to me.

Mrs. Radcliffe, as far as I can see, seems to have had a thing about monks and nuns and priests.  Are there any nice monks in any Radcliffe novels?  So far we have just one nice nun, and I don't think she's there by choice.  It's a great example of the English distrust and fear of Roman Catholicism, at least. 

I'm enjoying Schedoni's character.  He gets quite a lot of description, doesn't he?  Such as these:

...he seldom perceived truth when it lay on the surface; he could follow it through all the labyrinths of disquisition, but overlooked it, when it was undisguised before him. In fact he cared not for truth, nor sought it by bold and broad argument, but loved to exert the wily cunning of his nature in hunting it through artificial perplexities. At length, from a habit of intricacy and suspicion, his vitiated mind could receive nothing for truth, which was simple and easily comprehended. (p. 34)
He regarded Vivaldi as a rash boy, who was swayed only by his passions; but while he suffered deep resentment for the evil in his character, he felt neither respect nor kindness for the good, for the sincerity, the love of justice, the generosity, which threw a brilliancy even on his foibles. Schedoni, indeed, saw only evil in human nature. (p. 52)

 Are you on schedule with your reading?  How are you liking the book so far?  Are you wondering how the story is going to stretch out for 300+ more pages?  Because I am.


Teresa said...

I just finished reading the chapters for this week!
I'm surprised because, some years ago, I tried to read 'The Mysteries of Udolfo' and I was unable to finish it, and with 'The Italian' I'm not having any kind of trouble.
The first chapters – aka. Vivaldi meets Ellena – are a bit cheesy and all the exaltation of their feelings it was a bit too much for me. Actually, Vivaldi annoys me a bit with all his reasoning and, well, all his doubts surrounding Schedoni. I don't know if I'm explaining myself too well. Anyway, I'm glad he doesn't even for a second think of the consequences of marrying Ellena, he doesn't seem to care about his father disowning him.
I like Ellena best. Her determination, strength and will.Especially after she is locked with the nuns, and I'm especially curious about what she'd have to endure if she refuses the options that the Marchesa has offered her. Olivia did sound very scared about it, as she had suffered it herself? I'm sure there must be some kind of relation between Ellena and Olivia, I feel it.
And Schedoni... I still can't make up my mind on whether he is or not the monk. I hope he isn't, that would be a nice turn of events. And, anyway,if he was the mysterious man, why would he warn him?
I'm intrigued!

Jean said...

I'm sure you're right about Olivia and Ellena. And I agree that I hope Mystery Monk isn't Schedoni--Vivaldi may have a loving heart but I'm not sure that he's all that bright.

I too am finding the book easier to read than I expected. Maybe I've just gotten better at reading 18th-century writing! I read Udolpho when I was about 20 and it was not easy going.

Lindsey Sparks said...

I finished volume 1 and am enjoying it, although I actually liked Udolpho better, at least so far. I really like Udolpho though! That's a good point about this showing the English distrust of the Catholics. It is a bit hard to find good monks and nuns in most of English literature. I'm curious about Olivia as well. I bet she's Ellena's mother or something like that. Here is my post on the first volume: