The Italian (novel)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Italian, or the Confessional of the Black Penitents (1797) is a novel belonging to the Gothic genre and written by the English author Ann Radcliffe. The events are set in 1764, thirty- three years before the novels publication. It is the last book Radcliffe published during her lifetime (although she did go on to produce the novel Gaston de Blondville, which was published posthumously in 1826). The Italian has a dark, mysterious and sombre atmosphere, and concerns the themes of love, devotion and persecution by the Holy Inquisition. It also deals with issues prevalent at the time of the French Revolution, such as religion, aristocracy and nationality. Radcliffe's renowned use of veil imagery is considered to have reached its height of sophistication and complexity in The Italian; concealment and disguise are central themes of the novel. In line with late eighteenth-century sensibility and its parallel fetishisation of the sublime and the sentimentally pastoral, heightened emotional states of Radcliffe's characters are often reflected through the pathetic fallacy in the surrounding scenes of nature.


The plot is set in the 18th century Italy, where a young nobleman of Naples, Vincentio di Vivaldi, meets a beautiful damsel Ellena Rosalba, with whom he falls in love and whom he intends to marry. Vincentio's mother, being against the match and goaded by the mysterious monk Schedoni, orders him to kidnap Ellena. Vincentio nearly marries Ellena, but both are arrested and separated by Schedoni's subordinates before the nuptial ceremony is completed. Schedoni then travels to assassinate the girl, but suddenly discovers that she is in fact his own daughter. Schedoni's plans change radically and he hides Ellena in a safe place. Meanwhile, Vincentio, transported into a prison of Inquisition, struggles to disprove false charges against him. Schedoni appears at the trial, and after several unexpected revelations Vincentio is acquitted. Following a complex twist in the plot, Ellena is revealed to be Schedoni's niece, rather than his daughter; thus they are still of the same family. Her real father, Schedoni's brother is dead. It turns out that Schedoni descends from an old and noble family, and therefore Ellena becomes an eligible match for Vincentio. The novel ends with a happy marriage between the two, and the villains --Marchesa, Schedoni, Spalatro, and Nicola -- all dead.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Italian (novel)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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