Among the most sophisticated examples of Gothic romance, "The Italian" was written in 1797 at the height of Radcliffe's power as an author. The dark, shadowed Italy of this novel immediately encapsulates the fast-paced plot concerning Vincentio di Vivaldi and his beautiful love Ellena Rosalba. While they wish to marry, Vincentio's mother is against their marriage. Her scheming to separate them soon involves Schedoni, a mysterious monk, and arguably Radcliffe's most exceptional invention, whose sinister machinations cause the couple much strife. Radcliffe explores the ways in which concealment and disguise can threaten love and devotion, particularly during the Holy Inquisition, where crime and religion blend dangerously.
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