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This aspect remains a challenge for authors in this genre after the publication of The Old English Baron.Outside of its providential context, the supernatural would often suffer the risk of veering towards the absurd.Walpole published the first edition disguised as a medieval romance from Italy discovered and republished by a fictitious translator.When Walpole admitted to his authorship in the second edition, its originally favourable reception by literary reviewers changed into rejection.Radcliffe’s use of visual elements and their effects constitutes an innovative strategy for reading the world through “linguistic visual patterns” and developing an “ethical gaze”, allowing for readers to visualize the events through words, understand the situations, and feel the terror which the characters themselves are experiencing.Among other elements, Ann Radcliffe introduced the brooding figure of the Gothic villain (A Sicilian Romance in 1790), a literary device that would come to be defined as the Byronic hero.Radcliffe's novels, above all The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), were best-sellers.However, along with most novels at the time, they were looked down upon by many well-educated people as sensationalist nonsense.

In this book, the hapless protagonists are ensnared in a web of deceit by a malignant monk called Schedoni and eventually dragged before the tribunals of the Inquisition in Rome, leading one contemporary to remark that if Radcliffe wished to transcend the horror of these scenes, she would have to visit hell itself.The name Gothic, which originally referred to the Goths, and then came to mean "German", refers to the medieval Gothic architecture, in which many of these stories take place.This extreme form of Romanticism was very popular throughout Europe, especially among English- and German-language writers and artists.The English Gothic novel also led to new novel types such as the German Schauerroman and the French Roman Noir.The basic plot created many other staple Gothic generic traits, including threatening mysteries and ancestral curses, as well as countless trappings such as hidden passages and oft-fainting heroines.

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The genre had much success in the 19th century, as witnessed in prose by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the works of Edgar Allan Poe as well as Charles Dickens with his novella, A Christmas Carol, and in poetry in the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Byron.

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