Castle Of Wolfenbach by Eliza Parsons (Volume 2) - lyzard tutoring SqueakyChu

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Castle Of Wolfenbach by Eliza Parsons (Volume 2) - lyzard tutoring SqueakyChu

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Dic 12, 2013, 4:24pm

Castle Of Wolfenbach by Eliza Parsons (1793)

    "...and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read The Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you."
    "Have you, indeed? How glad I am!---What are they all?"
    "I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocket-book. Castle Of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer Of The Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan Of The Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time."
    "Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?"
    "Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them..."

Dic 12, 2013, 4:24pm

Hello, tutees and lurkers!

Welcome to the thread for Volume 2 of Eliza Parson's Castle Of Wolfenbach!

Editado: Dic 16, 2013, 8:36pm

One thing that these readings have taught Madeline and myself is that you should never undertake a Gothic novel without a---

Character list:

Matilda Weimar - a beautiful orphan
Mr Weimar - Matilda's uncle and guardian

Victoria, Countess of Wolfenbach
The Count of Wolfenbach

Charlotte, Marchioness de Melfont - sister to the Countess of Wolfenbach
The Marquis de Melfont

The Countess De Bouville
The Count De Bouville - her son
Mademoiselle Adelaide De Bouville - her daughter

Mrs Courtney - an English widow
Lord Delby - her brother, a widower

Mademoiselle De Fontelle - a nasty young woman
Madame le Brune - her aunt

Monsieur De Clermont - engaged to Adelaide De Bouvelle
The Marquis De Clermont - his father

Madame De Nancy
Mademoiselle De Bancre - her sister

Baron Stielberg - father to Charlotte and Victoria
The Chevalier De Montreville - in love with Victoria

Albert - servant to Matilda
Joseph - caretaker of the Castle of Wolfenbach
Bertha - Joseph's wife
Margarita - servant to Victoria
Therese - servant to Charlotte
Agatha - servant to Mr Weimar
Pierre and Jacqueline - peasants

Editado: Dic 13, 2013, 12:37am

From page 107 (52%) to page 108 (52.5%)
Ends with...
...pleasures of their society.

1. ...the moon, which was in its meridian

What phase of the moon was that?

2. She gave a faint shriek...


3. ...she shed floods of tears


4. Who is Lord Delby?

5. Matilda has a good companion in Madame La Roche. Both can trade tales of the miserable man in each of their lives.

6. Madame de Clermont

That's Adelaide?

7. The Countess died...

Adelaide's mother?

8. How convenient that the Count de Bouville is going back to England!

--------------------------- which Matilda sees Mr. Weimar

Editado: Dic 16, 2013, 6:57pm

(Sorry, love! - been having some technical issues...)


1. I think that means the moon is at its highest point in the sky; the term "meridian" is used differently today in astronomy and geography.

4. Lord Delby is the brother of Mrs Courtney, who was with her when she rescued Victoria. He is a widower with a teenaged son.

5. Misery loves company. :)

6. Yes, she has just married Monsieur de Clermont.

7. Yes. (So that's one Countess less, anyway!)

8. Well, I don't think "convenient" is quite the right word!

Dic 13, 2013, 4:17pm

Rule Britannia Part 2:

"Fear nothing... Here are no lettres de cachet, the laws will protect you from injury; compose yourself, therefore, my dear girl---in England no violence can be offered to you in any shape."

Dic 13, 2013, 4:30pm

Hooray for Britannia! No problem about the technical issues. It was too late last night for me to read much anyway.

Dic 13, 2013, 10:30pm

From page 108 (52.5%) to page 114 (55.5%)
Ending with...
...entertain uneasy conjectures.

1. ...her silence and melancholy airs


2. ...the soft melancholy which pervaded her fine features


3. revive with more solicitude than ever


4. Why would the Count add to Matilda's income? Isn't he being a bit presumptuous?

5. ..walked away with a melancholy air


6. She dried the tears which fell on her face...


7. What does proscribed mean?

8. Why did the Marquis want so much company on his trip to see the French Ambassador?

9. What is the Marquis trying to make the German Ambassador believe?
--------------------------- which Mr. Weimar still seems to be pursuing Matilda

Editado: Dic 14, 2013, 3:40pm

(The technical issues continue - grr!)


3. To show great care or concern for someone.

4. Well, "add to" - she has no money at all of her own; he's trying to give her a liveable income out of kindness. "I could not love my own child better."

7. Forbidden; unlawful. In this case Matilda is referring to her illegitimate birth, that she is the child of a "unlawful" connection.

8. They're not going with him to the Ambassador. In his absence, the rest of the party is going out in their carriages for an "airing".

9. The situation with Matilda is complicated by the fact that she and Mr Weimar are German subjects. Mr Weimar has French law on his side (in the form of the letter de cachet) but the French Ambassador, although as the King's representative he could compel the Marquis to hand Matilda over to Mr Weimar, doesn't want to do it. They involve the German Ambassador as someone who will have authority over Mr Weimar.

The Marquis wants a formal ruling that Matilda can stay with himself and the Marchioness. He gets permission to keep her for a year while her parents are searched for, and most importantly a further ruling that at the end of this time Matilda cannot be forced into anything - either a convent or marriage with Mr Weimar - although she will still have to return to him as his ward.

Dic 14, 2013, 5:58pm

From Georgette Heyer's Regency Buck:

"I am determined to take this book. It seems all to be written about ordinary people, and, do you know, I am quite tired of Sicilians and Italian Counts who behave in such a very odd way. Sense And Sensibility! Well, after Midnight Bells and Horrid Mysteries that has a pleasant ring, don't you agree?"


Dic 14, 2013, 6:45pm


Editado: Dic 14, 2013, 9:50pm

From page 114 (55.5%) to page 118 (59%)
Ends with...
...suspense under such circumstances.

1. The Marchioness in a pet rang the bell...


2. I consider and hope death will free me from his power long before that period expires.

Foreshadowing, perhaps?

3. ...a twelvemonth

I've been assuming that this is one year. Correct?

4. I don't understand why Victoria is being so completely enchanted by Matilda to the point that she is now even offering her money, etc. I think I'm missing part of the picture and that Victoria knows more about Matilda than she is letting on.

5. She burst into a flood of tears...


6. She burst into tears...

Again?! :)

----------------------------- which the Count seems determined to marry Matilda

Dic 14, 2013, 10:24pm

1. Exasperated; having a minor tantrum.

2. Wait and see. :)

3. Yes.

4. I think to an extent she has taken the place of Victoria's child, who would be about the same age. She was also the first person Victoria had to care about in a long time.

(The out-of-novel answer would be, it's a reflection of just how wonderful Matilda is!)

5. & 6. What did I say about "a flood of tears" taking the place of "melancholy"!? :D

Dic 15, 2013, 10:45am

What did I say about "a flood of tears" taking the place of "melancholy"!?


Dic 15, 2013, 9:38pm

From page 118 (59%) to page 126 (63%)
Ends with...
...sat mute with wonder.

1. for that angelic girl will never put them to the proof.

I don't understand this line.

2. Who is Lord Chamberlain?

3. ...she turned...faint


4. ...scarcely entered the drawing room before she fainted


5. ...was a little surprised at this sally

Meaning what?

6. ...tears running down her cheek


7. The Marchioness drowned in tears...


8. ...she wept aloud


9. ..soften the obdurate heart

What kind of heart?

------------------------------- which Matilda intends to head for a convent to wait out the twelvemonth

Dic 15, 2013, 9:59pm

1. The Count tells the Marquis that it is safe for him to be alone with Matilda, because his honour and discretion can be trusted - mostly because Matilda is too good and too honourable herself to tempt him into doing anything wrong - "That angelic girl will never put them {my honour and discretion} to the proof {test}."

2. "Lord Chamberlain" is an appointed position under the royal family: this is the person who organises all the court functions and looks after the invitations and hence social access to the royal family. He also has numerous duties actually running the royal household.

In the same paragraph, you see a reference to "the birth-day": the birthdays of the king and queen were marked with gatherings at court to which the aristocracy were invited. The de Melfonts, the Count and Lord Delby all go to the main court function to meet the royals, whereas the Countess, Mrs Courtney and Matilda only go to the ball afterwards, but as guests of the Lord Chamberlain (which is still pretty good, socially speaking!).

5. A retort, or a provocative remark.

9. Stubborn. (She keeps saying 'no'!)

Dic 15, 2013, 10:56pm

(Sorry, meant to copy this in earlier!)

Rule Britannia, Part 3:

"How happy are Englishmen! free from all those false prejudices, they can confer honour on whom they please, and the want of noble birth is no degradation where merit and character deserve esteem..."

Dic 16, 2013, 2:08pm

Some catching up to do, busy weekend :)

Harleystreet to Hampstead, about 4 miles

7 floods of tears in 102 pages, that's 1 every 14,5 page..

She withdrew on saying these words, and left them no power to frame excuses, and
consequently they were obliged to follow, though with aching hearts.

So, tactic, say what you want to happen, than leave before anyone can object, and the custom of the day dictates you must proceed, because no objection was made :)

Quixote like expedition
Don Quixote - 1605
King George III - 1760-1801

So, a classic at that time as well.

'My dear April girl,' said the Countess, 'no more of those showers
Lovely turn of phrase

mss Eliza Parsons does go on a bit about virtue and what is proper etc etc. pretty soon I'll need a helmet...

I shrink at my own littleness
That's it, girl, keep to your own class. 8-/

btw are you both familiar with Downtown Abbey?

Dic 16, 2013, 3:07pm

I've never watched Downton Abbey because I'm hard of hearing and simply stopped watching television completely (except for the occasional football game or Olympic sport). I find computer interaction much more entertaining.

Dic 16, 2013, 3:11pm

the subtitles for hearing impaired don't do it for you?

Editado: Dic 16, 2013, 6:56pm


that's 1 every 14,5 page

It feels like more. Mind you, Matilda pales beside the eponymous heroine of Elsie Dinsmore, which I read earlier this year, who had 65 crying fits over 171 pages!

When Madeline and I read Clermont, another of the "horrid novels", we counted 88 uses of the word "melancholy" over the four volumes.

and left them no power to frame excuses

I think that means that she argued her case so well, they couldn't think of anything to say in reply.

Eliza Parsons does go on a bit about virtue and what is proper etc etc.

She was writing at a time when the novel still had a pretty poor reputation, and was often accused of leading girls astray, and she was writing to support her children and couldn't afford to be attacked by the critics; so it's not surprising to find her piling on "virtue" and "duty" with a shovel. :)

Matilda's inferiority complex is a bit disturbing, though at the time illegitimacy was considered an uneradicable stain.

I am familiar with Downton Abbey but haven't actually watched it.

Dic 16, 2013, 7:23pm

> 20

My husband hates watching subtitles walk across the television screen. I find them somewhat annoying myself as they seem to be in the picture rather than under the picture.

I like to go to the movies where I see captioned foreign films. I attend a foreign film festival (where I finally got the film society to also provide closed captioning for films in English...which I otherwise would not understand).

I also hate all those commercials on television. Online, I just skip all the ads. Seriously, I really don't feel as if I'm missing much by not watching television.

I do miss music, though. It's never sounded the same to me since my hearing acuity declined. It all sounds mostly like what my German dad termed "Katzenjammer".

Dic 16, 2013, 8:34pm

I've been quiet because I went away for a few days with no computer access, but took Castle of Wolfenbach - and finished it. I might have piped up with an observation or two over the past week, but I haven't been sure that I wouldn't be talking about something that SqueakyChu hadn't got to yet. One thing I can confirm is the usefulness of a list of characters: there seemed to be an extra Count and Countess at the denouement, that I couldn't account for!

Dic 16, 2013, 8:36pm

Good to have you back, Andrew!

there seemed to be an extra Count and Countess at the denouement, that I couldn't account for!


Dic 16, 2013, 8:52pm

From page 126 (63%) to page 130 (65%)
Ends with...
...refreshing slumber
1. It was wet with tears...


2. way to a violent burst of tears


3. ...both weeping


4. Why does the Count want to find Mademoiselle de Fontelle?

5. ...on the melancholy circumstances of parting


6. ...with streaming eyes


9. They took no ladies in chamber, or high pensioners


10. ...with tears of gratitude

Why not? We have tears for everything else!


11. We're now learning to be suspicious of Mrs. Courtney...

-------------------------------- which Matilda is admitted to a convent


Dic 16, 2013, 8:59pm

4. To frighten her into shutting her mouth about Matilda. (He knows something scandalous about her.)

9. That the Ursuline Convent doesn't take boarders - i.e. doesn't have young women to stay there who are not planning on becoming nuns - even if paid well to receive them.

11. This kind of mixed character is unusual for a novel of this period.

Dic 17, 2013, 11:27pm

From page 130 (65%) to page 136 (68%)
Ends with...
...sweetness to all.

1. ...from the melancholy circumstances


2. ...she cried incessantly


3. ...the tears were in his eyes


4. ...proved a most salutary remedy


5. ...shall I repine, that I have devoted myself to retirement


6. ...she no longer wept


7. ...his particular devoirs for some time past


8. ...but if it is so, I shall never depend upon man again.


----------------------------- which Mrs. Courtney is convinced that the Count has affection for her

Dic 18, 2013, 2:40am

4. Beneficial, but usually in the sense of a harsh lesson (or taking nasty medicine).

5. Express discontent, or dwell on regrets.

6. Attentions, or civilities; in this case, behaviour that suggests a man is interested in a woman.

Editado: Dic 18, 2013, 10:49pm

Slightly off topic...

List of Recommended Gothic Fiction

I now have an appreciation for what "Gothic fiction" really is and what books are contemporary versions of Gothic fiction or simply (correction due to not expressing myself well) contemporary novels containing elements of Gothic fiction. I'm having great fun in exploring Gothic fiction with you, Liz, and reinforcing my knowledge through seeing parallels in works by authors of Gothic fiction. I do, however, see individual writing styles emerge among the various authors we've read together.

I'm really enjoying our current read - mostly because it's engaging, humorous, and relatively easy to follow. However, I have to say that the Monk was by far my favorite read in this category. :D

Dic 18, 2013, 4:50pm

Hmm. I wouldn't call many of the novels on that list actually Gothic: most of them are examples of how Gothic themes and overtones later crept into other forms of literature.

I'm very glad you're enjoying our reading! And there are plenty more wicked monks out there for us to be going on with... :)

Dic 18, 2013, 5:32pm

Heh! Great!!

Dic 18, 2013, 10:46pm

From page 136 (68%) to page 139 (69.5%)
Ends with...
...An obedient servant, Maria Courtney

1. ...there is no accounting for the vanity of women, and how very readily they entertain their wish to indulge.

Haha! I've been guilty of that myself!

2. ...signed frequently


3. Mrs. Courtney, more melancholy


4. ..the Count of Wolfenbach being there dangerously ill

How convenient! (...if true!)

5. ...I dare answer for my sister (said Lord Delby)

Who is Lord Delby's sister?

6. Who wrote the letter in the unsigned hand?
Mrs. Courtney?
Mademoiselle de Fontelle?
The Count of Wolfenbach?

7. I think that the letter signed by Maria Courtney was not written by her at all!

---------------------------- which Matilda receives two letters

Dic 18, 2013, 10:57pm

1. I tend to do the opposite!

5. Mrs Courtney.

6. & 7. Wait and see. :)

Editado: Dic 18, 2013, 11:04pm

5. For some reason, I thought that Lord Delby was Mrs. Courtney's uncle. I wonder where I got that idea from? Never mind, though. I stand corrected.

6 & 7. I'm waiting! I'm waiting...!

Dic 18, 2013, 11:06pm

You have less waiting to do in this novel than most Gothics! - the five-volume-long ones, where something happens in Volume 1 but isn't explained until Volume 5, are my personal favourites. :)

Dic 19, 2013, 8:21am


Dic 19, 2013, 11:20pm

Form page139 (69.5%) to page 146 (73%)
Ends with...
...he left the room.

1. ...gave loose to the painful emotions that oppressed her


2. ...bursting into tears


3. ...many melancholy circumstances


4. ..the packet was never but once seen

What is that?

5. ...fell senseless on the floor


6. raised a subscription for their support

Which means what?

7. ...and the ingratitude and contumely of those who once thought themselves honoured in your acquaintance


8. I thought there was something wrong.

I was sure there was something wrong!

9. Is Mrs. Boute the woman (the servant's sister) who gave Hermine lodging?

------------------------- which Mother Magdalene shares her story

Dic 19, 2013, 11:34pm

4. A ship that sails regularly for commercial purposes - carrying passengers, cargo and/or mail.

5. They must end up terribly bruised, these women. :)

6. Setting up a small private charity to raise money for someone in financial need. There was really no such thing at the time as a public charity.

7. Insulting treatment or language.

8. Isn't there always!?

9. Yes.

I love it when Gothic novels turn into a "I'm more miserable than you" contest... :)

Dic 19, 2013, 11:44pm


Dic 20, 2013, 2:33am

#38 I love it when Gothic novels turn into a "I'm more miserable than you" contest... - is that a normal feature then? I was a bit surprised when I read that bit: it seemed huge reverse snobbery for Mother Magdalene considering that she was supposed to be do good.

Editado: Dic 20, 2013, 2:59am

A certain subset of them, yes. More commonly you have a character thinking things couldn't possibly get worse...then finding out it can ALWAYS get worse!

Here's a typical quote from Regina Maria Roche's Clermont:

"But a few days ago, and from the recollection of former calamities, I thought I could not be more wretched than I was then: but, alas! I now find I was mistaken."

Mother Magdalene is in the business of weaning young girls' minds off worldly things, I would say.

Dic 20, 2013, 11:16pm

From page 146 (73%) to page 156 (78%)
Ends with...
...buried in oblivion.

1. I shed a flood of tears.


2. Who are Madame De Raikfort and Madame De Creponiere?

3. her melancholy situation


4. This "chapter" makes the church look good!

5. About the Chevalier...
Every thing relative to him and the other victims was buried in oblivion.

How convenient!

----------------------------- which the Count of Wolfenbach makes a confession

Dic 20, 2013, 11:33pm

2. Two local wealthy ladies who do a lot to help the poor.

4. As far as anti-Catholicism goes, this is certainly one of the less hostile Gothic novels; although like all English novels of this period, it assumes that no-one really wants to enter a convent, if they can possibly avoid it. You will notice that most of Mother Magdalene's advice to Matilda amounts to urging her to think very carefully before she takes the final step.

5. *Not* hushing things up is really a very recent invention; well into the 20th century you find crime-related novels that conclude with a crime being hushed up so as not to embarrass the "nice" people connected to it.

Dic 21, 2013, 8:48am

Re 4.

You will notice that most of Mother Magdalene's advice to Matilda amounts to urging her to think very carefully before she takes the final step.

Yes. That idea certainly does get reiterated.

Re 5.

...well into the 20th century you crime-related novels that conclude with a crime being hushed up so as not to embarrass the "nice" people connected to it.


Dic 22, 2013, 12:50am

From page 156 (78%) to page 162 (81%)
Ends with...
...her own very powerful reflections.

1. ...still persevered in her soft melancholy


2. ...with streaming eyes


3. If Matilda is not Mr. Weimar's niece and he has no legal authority over her, why did she leave the convent to go with him?

4. ...she fainted


5. taking a letter and a Louis d'or out of her pocket

I presume that's some kind of money?

6. Is my character thus traduced?


7. Wasn't Matilda basically kidnapped? Wouldn't that have been illegal?

------------------------ which Matilda is taken out of the convent by Mr. Weimar

Editado: Dic 22, 2013, 1:11am

3. It is debatable whether or not he has legal authority over her; he has been her guardian all her life, even if he isn't her uncle. That was temporarily superseded by the arrangements made via the French and German Ambassadors, but here Mr Weimar does an end-run around them to get Matilda back in his power. An order from the king overrides everything else. (Mr Weimar apparently had the connections to get a letter de cachet in the first place, so presumably he used them again to get this order.)

5. A Louis d'or was a gold coin of the French currency; it's hard to suggest a value, as the coins changed which each monarch in whose reign they were issued. (We are probably talking about Louis XVI.)

6. Slandered; defamed.

7. Grey area (see #3): Mr Weimar's rapid departure and roundabout route do suggest he knows he's on thin legal ice, though.

Dic 22, 2013, 11:37pm

From page 162 (81%) to page 166 (83%)
Ends with...
...resumed his narrative.

1. (cried she, weeping)

It's okay to weep now, Matilda.

2. I stabbed her and then myself

That surprised me!

3. Barbary Corsair

What or who is that?

4. I'm not sure what happened here. Were they overtaken by Turkish pirates? Did the person on the ship with Mr. Weimar turn against him?

5. ...that you will become a nun

Now he wants her to become a nun?! Isn't it a bit late for that?! If that's what he wants, why didn't he leave her in the convent in the first place?

6. burst into tears


7. My father a Count!

We knew that she had been born of nobility all along. No surprise here.

... in which the Count reveals the story of Matilda's family

Editado: Dic 23, 2013, 12:22am

3. & 4. From about the 16th century onwards, pirates operated out of an area in northern Africa known as the Barbary Coast - encompassing Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. They were chiefly Muslim and chiefly attacked ships from Christian countries, selling any captives into slavery. (There was great horror in Europe at the thought of WHITE PEOPLE being slaves, at the same time huge profits were being made from the enslaving of black people...)

While this did in fact happen, novelists often exploited it as a convenient way of getting characters to disappear for a while: they would turn up years after the event explaining that their ship had been captured and they themselves enslaved. Sometimes they would arrange to buy their freedom, sometimes they would manage to convert their captor to Christianity. I have to say, though, this is the first time I've found one of these pirates operating as a deux ex machina and intervening to save the heroine (Matilda's fate is not exactly typical, to say the least).

Mr Weimar's friend is captured by the pirates and enslaved:

that friend had been carried to a country house, to work in the gardens

It is a weird thing, but the slaves in these novels almost always do end up working in someone's garden; I suppose it was the least degrading form of slavery they could think of.

5. He wants her to become a nun only to make it impossible for her to marry any other man; it is his way of controlling her after his death.

7. Nor that he was---A COUNT!!

Editado: Dic 23, 2013, 11:01pm

From page 166 (83%) to page 169 (84.5%)
Ends with...
...he went on as follows.
1. My melancholy was observed by every one...


2. ...shed torrents of tears

Rightly so!

3. I can't follow what is going on here. Could you summarize what happens here before I proceed any further and add the new characters to our character list? Am I getting confused because I have a cold or because too much is going on in just a few pages?


------------------------- which Mr. Weimar continues his story

Dic 24, 2013, 12:54am


Okay, I'll try:

So---Matilda's parents are the Count and Countess Berniti of Naples. Her uncle - who *is* her uncle - is never named so we'll just go on calling him "Mr Weimar". He is the black sheep of the family. He always hated his brother and grew to hate him even more when they fell in love with the same woman. She (the daughter of Count Morlini, who is given no other name) married the Count Berniti and they had a baby girl (Matilda). Mr Weimar grew so insanely jealous that he murdered his brother, making it look like a robbery. At first he intended to kill the baby too but couldn't bring himself to do it.

Mr Weimar's mistress, Agatha (his housekeeper from the beginning of the novel), bore him an illegitimate daughter, which died of convulsions. Mr Weimar swapped the dead baby for Matilda, and it was believed that Matilda had died. Mr Weimar then inherited all of his brother's estate and fortune, as well as his title.

Is that clear? :)

Editado: Dic 24, 2013, 5:59am

Thank you. That does help a lot!

1. What happened to the Matilda's mother?

2. If Matilda's father was a Count, why wasn't Mr. Weimar also a Count (since they were brothers)?

Dic 24, 2013, 2:20pm

1. We don't know yet.

2. He will explain that in the next section.

Editado: Dic 24, 2013, 3:57pm

Okay. I popped some cold medicine so I hope my brain is clearer for the next few pages. :D

Note: Precisely what is happening in this book is why I often avoid reading contemporary mysteries. I can't detect clues. I can't remember characters. If the clues are subtle, nothing seems to be happening in those books until the very last few pages when, suddenly, a terribly complicated explanation unfolds.

I am so glad you are here, Liz, to help me with this novel which I've thoroughly enjoyed so far. I love all the crying, fainting, and the melancholy mood. :)

Dic 24, 2013, 6:19pm

I'm falling behind...

1) to attend the laws of Hymen ?

2) she was possessed of every appendage proper for a female in fashionable life,

3) This very modish pair

4) his disconsolate widow

5) and a very noble jointure,

6) This state of mortification being rubbed through,

7) Mrs Courtney was good-natured, not from principle but constitution; she hated trouble of any sort, therefore bore any thing, rather than have the fatigue of being out of humour; she was polite and friendly, where she had no temptation to be otherwise; in short, she had many negative virtues, without any active ones.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing altogether or not..

Matilda is slowly starting to become too good to be true. It's taking longer than usual for me to get there, because of the style, but it's starting to become a bit too much, how good and virtuous etc.. she is.

8) she was one of those very elegant forms you cannot behold without admiration; her face was more expressive than beautiful, yet more engaging than a lifeless set of features without animation, however perfect or blooming, could possibly be;

What does this mean in other words?

Editado: Dic 24, 2013, 8:34pm

I'll wait for Liz to answer you, Jerry. I'm not in a hurry.

Editado: Dic 25, 2013, 5:08am

Apologies to both of you! You would appreciate that, given the time difference, when you were posting I was off doing family Christmas duties.

Frankly, I'd rather've been here discussing Gothic novels! :)


I have exactly the opposite kind of brain, one which obsesses over details. It's more useful when reading than in real life, I can tell you!

I'm glad you're enjoying the emotional extremes! :)


No hurry, Jerry!

1. To behave as a married man should; "Hymen" was the Greek god of weddings.

2. She owned everything that showed her wealth and status (such as jewels, a carriage, etc.).

3. A very fashionable couple.

4. Grief-stricken by her husband's death; unable to be consoled.

5. A jointure is a settlement made on a woman at the time of her marriage, to provide her with an income in the event of her being widowed (at which time the bulk of the man's estate would go to his male heir). "Noble" means that the settlement was extremely generous, more than might have been expected.

6. "Mortification" means embarrassment, or social discomfort; to "rub through" something means to put up with it (in the sense of having no other choice). In this case, Mrs Courtney is "mortified" by having to wear mourning for her husband; we guess from this that she was not completely "disconsolate" (or she wouldn't be thinking about her clothes so much).

7. In novels at this time, characters were usually fairly simply sketched, either black or white, good or evil; everything was about extremes. Mrs Courtney is an unusual character in that she comes in shades of grey. She is usually good, but we see here that this is not because she *is* good, necessarily, but because she's had no temptation to be bad.

On the other hand, heroines (though not necessarily heroes) were expected to be essentially perfect. Anything less than perfection brought accusations from the critics of novels providing a "bad example", or leading young readers (i.e. girls) astray. Matilda is pretty typical. She never makes a mistake or a bad judgement, yet spends the whole book wringing her hands about how sinful and weak and misguided she is.

If you are going to read books from this era, you really have to accept that this is what you're going to get! :)

It wasn't until Jane Austen that heroines were allowed to be believably flawed - and that the critics accepted that there was a significant difference between "committing a sin" and "making a mistake". This is one of the most important things about the novels of Jane Austen - her girls are flesh and blood.

8. There was a lot of debate at the time about what constituted "true beauty", and Parsons is suggesting here that Matilda has qualities more attractive than just being beautiful. Her figure isn't perfect, but that's okay. She has intelligence and emotion in her face and eyes, which are more attractive than physical perfection. Parsons implies that Matilda's heart and mind - which make her face "expressive" and engaging" - are her most important features.

If you are at all familiar with the novels of Anthony Trollope---one of his characters, Griselda Grantly, is exactly the opposite. She's perfectly beautiful - but has no "animation", never gets excited, never gets enthusiastic, and never smiles unless she's expected to smile. Other people are always comparing her to a statue. She's beautiful, but it's not enough.

Dic 25, 2013, 9:53am

Merry Christmas, Liz and Jerry!

From page 169 (84.5%) to page 173 (86.5%)
Ends with...
...must necessarily take some time

1. turned into a settled melancholy


2. where such melancholy accidents had taken place


3. Agatha was really an evil person as well!

4. ...tears stopped her utterance


5. the melancholy situation of her mother


6. ...the now the husband of Mrs. Courtney

I thought Mrs. Courtney was a widow.

7. ...address a letter to her grandfather

Is that the Count Berniti?

------------------------------------------------ which Mr. Weimar concludes his tale

Dic 25, 2013, 3:53pm

Thank you!

6. Because of the false letters she received while in the convent, she thinks that the Count De Bouville has married Mrs Courtney; she hasn't been in touch with any of her other friends lately, who could tell her differently.

7. No, the Count Morlini, her mother's father. Her paternal grandfather is dead.

the disorder turned to a settled melancholy nothing could remove.

Yes, that certainly sound like she might be Matilda's mother. :)

Dic 25, 2013, 9:49pm

From page 173 (86%) to page 180 (90%)
Ends with...
...the day was appointed for sailing.

1. She fainted in his arms...


2. ...with tears of expressive tenderness


3. ...she was alone and very melancholy


4. ...she burst into tears


5. What dependence can be placed on a corsair?


6. he would enter into a monastery

What a strange turnabout!

7. The parallel stories of the Countess and the Count of Wolfenbach versus Matilda and Mr. Weimar keeps confusing me. :(

-------------------------- which the Countess meets her son

Editado: Dic 25, 2013, 10:16pm

5. Corsair is another word for pirate; it tended to be applied to pirates operating out of north Africa, as we know the pirate who rescued Matilda does. (Or did, before he quit!) The Count De Bouville does not trust the corsair (pirate) to deliver Matilda safely to Naples as he has promised.

6. This is another strange thing about this novel - it doesn't feel compelled to kill off Mr Weimar, even though he is its main villain. In fact it's strange that both villains are allowed to repent.

7. The story of the Countess is more or less resolved, since the Count of Wolfenbach has died and she has been re-established, and also been reunited with her son. Be aware, though, that Frederic, has now inherited his father's title and is sometimes called "the young Count". :)

Editado: Dic 25, 2013, 10:25pm

re 6.

In fact it's strange that both villains are allowed to repent.

It is indeed. I much prefer the ending of The Monk. "Do a bad deed; meet a bad end". That's what I say! :)

re 7.

Be aware, though, that Frederic, has now inherited his father's title and is sometimes called "the young Count".

That already had me confused. At first, I thought that Frederic was going with the Count de Bouville after Matilda.

I think what has me so confused is that the two stories are so parallel with seemingly all the males being called, at some point or other, "the Count".

There is no relationship between Matilda and the Count of Wolfenbach, is there?

Dic 25, 2013, 11:06pm

"Do a bad deed; meet a bad end". That's what I say! :)

That's all right for you - Christians aren't supposed to think like that! (They do; they're not supposed to! :D)

Note how both Victoria and Matilda instantly forgive the men who have caused them so much misery. Along with essentially perfect heroines, this sort of perfectly Christian behaviour (not often found in real life, in my experience!) is common in novels of this period.

Frederic (the young Count) wanted to go with the Count de Bouville, but he is in the army and cannot get leave.

There is no relationship between Matilda and the Count of Wolfenbach, is there?

Even though it's technically a spoiler, at this point I feel I can get away with saying simply NO.

Dic 26, 2013, 11:25pm

From page 180 (90%) to page 185 (92.5%)
Ends with...
...write to her friends.

1. ...he was obliged to bridle in his impatience

Hold back?

2. Who were the Count and Countess Marcellini?

3. ...she trembled


4. ...could not suppress her tears


5. ...replied Matilda, weeping and strongly agitated


6. ...drowned in tears


7. ...Instantly fainted in arms of her friend


8. ...dissolving in tears


9. ...with trembling knees


10. ...sunk into insensibility

High drama over these last few pages!

----------------------------------- which Matilda is reunited with her mother

Dic 26, 2013, 11:48pm

1. Yes, as in holding back a horse (by pulling on its bridle).

2. Friends of the Countess Berniti, Matilda's mother, with whom she is staying in Nice. (This is where the Counts and Countesses REALLY get out of hand!)

3., 4., 5., 6., 7., 8., 9. & 10. Somebody build an ark!! :D

Dic 26, 2013, 11:57pm

Oh, hooray! (Reading ahead a little---)

with difficulty she tottered to a seat, and leaning her head on her friend’s shoulder, burst into a flood of tears

I love it when Gothic heroines totter! :D

Dic 27, 2013, 12:22am

That's the first "totter" of this book. These heroines are so unsteady!

Dic 27, 2013, 12:47am

Yes, they're not very sturdily built!

Dic 27, 2013, 12:59am

I think they faint so often because they're dehydrated from all that crying. :)

Dic 27, 2013, 1:02am

HA!! I said exactly that once in a review at my blog of an over-the-top sentimental novel! (In which the hero seems to be following the heroine around with a glass of lemonade, just in case.)

Dic 27, 2013, 1:05am


Editado: Dic 27, 2013, 5:43pm

Here we are:

You might remember I mentioned to you Catherine Cuthbertson's Romance Of The Pyrenees, which is the five-volume Gothic novel with an explanation of its mystery that goes on for a volume and a half?---Another of Cuthbertson's novels is Santo Sebastiano (which sounds like a Gothic, but isn't), of which I said the following:

Santo Sebastiano, published some two decades later, belongs to the next generation of sentimental novels, and what we find here is something rather different: emotion in the service of didacticism, with the “sensibility” of the characters used as a moral yardstick. The better the character – the higher and more refined their sense of duty – the more frequently they suffer emotional collapses.

And what collapses! As you may recall, it was while reading Santo Sebastiano that Thomas Macaulay was inspired to keep a tally of just how often in the novel someone fainted – 27 times in total – including one or two appearances from our old friend, the death-like swoon. But those were only the actual faints; the Compleat Faints, if you like. If Macaulay had included in his survey the almost faints—the times that someone felt faint, or was taken faint, or had to sit down to avoid fainting—well, I shudder to think what the total would have been; certainly into three figures.

And then there’s the crying, which is of a frequency and volume that truly boggles the mind. It’s not so much a case of “cry me a river” as “cry me an inland sea”. No wonder the characters in this novel are always calling for glasses of water: they must go through life in a state of chronic dehydration...

It's a great pity that Cuthbertson's novels aren't more readily available - you would LOVE them. :)

Dic 27, 2013, 10:31pm

the higher and more refined their sense of duty – the more frequently they suffer emotional collapses.

Those would be wild reads!

inspired to keep a tally of just how often in the novel someone fainted – 27 times in total

I can count our own novel's faints after we're done.

death-like swoon

I haven't encountered this yet! :O

certainly into three figures.


And then there’s the crying, which is of a frequency and volume that truly boggles the mind


No wonder the characters in this novel are always calling for glasses of water: they must go through life in a state of chronic dehydration...

See? What did I say?!

Dic 27, 2013, 10:34pm


The "death-like swoon" is a trademark of Miss Cuthbertson; I haven't encountered it in anyone else's novels.

Dic 28, 2013, 12:04am

From page 185 (92.5%) to page 192 (96%)
Ends with...
...herself to your wishes."

1. ...trembled so violently


2. ...she tottered to a seat


3. ...burst into a flood of tears which preserved her from fainting.


It did? How?

4. ...laughing at this equivoque

Which means what?

5. ...added she, in tears


-------------------------------- which Matilda learns that the Count de Bouville is not married to Mrs. Courtney

Dic 28, 2013, 12:36am

3. Strong emotion was supposed to overwhelm people; crying relieved the pressure and therefore prevented them from fainting. If you didn't cry you could go into a fit or even a catatonic state.

(Don't look at me, I didn't make this stuff up!)

4. An equivocal expression, one capable of more than one meaning - either intentionally, as a play on words, or unintentionally, like a Freudian slip. In this case it is intentional, comparing Matilda being captured by pirates to the Count being "captured" by Matilda.

Dic 28, 2013, 8:37am

(Don't look at me, I didn't make this stuff up!)


Dic 28, 2013, 11:57pm

From page 192 (96%) to page 196 (98%)
Ends with... return those obligations

1. I did not wish to arrogate...


2. Matilda made the right move to change her mother's mind!

3. a mere bagatelle

Definition, please...

4. ...against one of your coterie

Which is...what?
------------------------------------- which the Countess agrees to wed Lord Delby

Dic 29, 2013, 1:06am

1. To take over responsibility for something when you don't really have the right to.

3. Something of no importance, a minor point.

4. Your inner circle of friends, your clique. Your peeps. :)

Editado: Dic 16, 2016, 10:19pm

From page 196 (98%) to page 203 (100%)
Ends with...
...less fortunate than myself
1. Young Frederic, extremely attached to Lord Derby

How convenient!

2. ...trembled so exceedingly


3. ..from the hour he received one line from her

Mr. Weimar still craves that contact...even though the next one will be the last. I guess he must really want to know that she is now under the care of her mother.

4. Comment: It's too bad we can't put murderers in monasteries today instead of into prisons.

5. ...had given so melancholy a turn to her thoughts


6. Comment: I love the drama, though we know what answer Matilda's mother will give!

7. ...she blessed them with tears of joy


8. I will...end my days under your roof

My comment: Just what the Count finally be able to live with a mother-in-law!

9. Comment: I love that young lovers in these novels always seem to meet in a garden. So romantic!

10. Frederic, with a repressed sigh

So cute! His day will come, some day soon enough,
with another beautiful but younger woman.

11. Comment: There's going to be lots of traveling in Europe in days ahead.

12. confute the odium Mademoiselle De Fontelle had thrown upon Matilda's character


13. Comment: Mrs. Courtney was now being nice and better behaved.

14. ...appeared with much effrontery (re: Madame Le Brun and her niece)

Which means...?

15. ...the envious traducer of your character

Definition, please...

16. Comment: Hurray for the blunt Marchioness!

17. Comment: I love this quote by the Marchioness:

Candour and good nature...will give beauty to the most indifferent faces, whilst envy and malice will render the most beautiful persons truly contemptible.

18. Did most of the novels of that time have such explicit morality messages?

19. Matilda, who had not expected this denouement

Which means...?

20. Such is the progress of envy.


21. ...strange and melancholy incidents


21. I am indebted for not taking the veil...

That line just had to be included, eh? Haha!

22. Comment: I love the last line...

"I shall feel it my duty, by active virtues, to extend, to the utmost of my abilities those blessings to others less fortunate than myself."

23. My reaction to this book:
It was beautiful.
It was inspiring.
There were lots of Counts and Countesses!
It has a lovely message.

------------------------------------- which the Count of Bouville marries Matilda

Thank you, Liz and Jerry (and lurkers), for sharing this reading experience with me.

Thank you once again, Liz, for your excellent tutoring and helping me enjoy a book that I would otherwise not have chosen to read by myself.




Dic 29, 2013, 4:17pm


1. Well, he hasn't exactly had an inspiring father figure in his life up to this point.

Another interesting and different thing about this novel is that Victoria does re-marry: often novels of this time would have women of her age insisting they are too old for that sort of thing.

3. He wants to know that she's NOT under the care of the Count.

4. Some monasteries were a lot stricter than prisons are - also, very fond of solitary.

8. Utter submission to the will of a parent was the mark of a "good girl" in novels of this time. Matilda putting her mother before her lover and being willing to give him up is supposed to be proof that she is grade-A wife material.

12. To prove that what she said to make everyone despise Matilda was false.

14. Shamelessness; defying public opinion.

15. Slanderer.

18. YES!!!! :)

Not absolutely all of them, no, but a very large proportion of them featured extremely blatant moralising. Novels still had a poor reputation and this was one way that authors could excuse themselves for writing one. Better writers were more subtle about it, and let the action speak for itself; others felt the need to spell everything out and go on and on about it. In the novel I'm reading now, from 1797 (the one I may not finish this year because of falling timber!), every single random observation about life brings on about four pages of "you can only be happy if you are virtuous". I'm at the end of chapter 3, which is also page 114, because THAT's how much moralising there is in this book! :)

19. Outcome; ending.

21. Well, of course! :)

23. I'm very glad you enjoyed it!

And once again---


Dic 29, 2013, 4:27pm

* does happy dance*

Dic 29, 2013, 4:44pm

Castle Of Wolfenbach, then, is an unusual Gothic novel for several reasons:

- its setting is more or less contemporary
- it mixes violent doings in a supposedly haunted castle with (more or less) normal domestic scenes
- it is set in England for a significant period of time
- it has characters who do perfectly ordinary things like go to Scarborough for a holiday

On the other hand, the persecution of Matilda and Victoria, the use of a "crumbling castle" as a setting, and the confusion over the heroine's true identity are all standard Gothic tropes.

As I said at the beginning, the fact that Castle Of Wolfenbach was published three years before the seminal Mysteries Of Udolpho probably accounts for this apparent breaking of the Gothic "rules". After Udolpho, most Gothic novels were written to a fairly strict recipe, although you can find some interesting experimentation within those boundaries.

Ene 6, 2014, 3:47pm

Busy holidays prevented me from finishing earlier. I had a few hours today, so read as far as I could.

from: When the ladies retired ...

trifling coxcomb

my quondam lover



Ok, I've finished the book.

Without your tutoring I would of course not even have started this book, let alone finished it. I am glad for the extra background information about novels from this era, and the historical perspectives you've added. It turned out to be an enjoyable experience.
At times the moralising was a bit like being hit over the head with a bible, at other times it was with a handbook on How to Be a Good Girl™, which could easily be as heavy as a bible.
I do like that the villains in the end repented, although the heroins' forgivenesses were a bit too easy for my taste. I'm not about bearing grudges, but that doesn't mean I forgive you completely, at once.

Thanks again, SqueakyChu and lyzard.

Ene 6, 2014, 4:19pm

A "coxcomb" is a conceited man; "trifling" in this context means a man who plays at love but isn't serious.

Quondam means former - "my former lover" - but with a suggestion that he was never her true lover.

Inquietude means a state of being upset or disturbed about something.


As I've suggested, novels from this period were often extremely heavy-handed, and particularly with respect to their attitude to their young female characters; novelists lived in terror of being accused of being a corrupting or immoral influence on their readers and often went to the other extreme to avoid any chance of it.

The repentance of the two villains is interesting and unusual, but I agree, instant forgiveness is all very well in theory but not very believable in practice, given the extremity of the transgressions.


Well done, Jerry, and thank you so much for joining us! I'm certain Madeleine and I will be going on to other Gothic novels, and we would be very glad to have you if you would join us again. :)

Ene 6, 2014, 4:31pm

Oh, now I feel guilty for not saying thank you...

I think what stood out for me was:
(1) Parsons' naïve belief in "Providence" and how God will protect a "good" person (despite the nasty ends that come to some secondary characters!). I gather from various sources (I'm currently reading Religion and the Decline of Magic which has a whole chapter on the subject) that this was a specifically Protestant belief, and had a strange development from an early very stern view that the Godly's rewards will be in the next world, not this one, to an almost folk belief that God's hand is everywhere, there's literally no room for the operation of blind chance, and - as I said - God will protect the good person.
(2) She doesn't really turn the screw on the reader, suspense-wise. Either events move too fast for the tension to really build, or someone comes along to lend a helping hand. Despite all that happens, it's not a proto-Kafka world that Parsons depicts (a description that, admittedly loosely, would fit The Monk).
(3) The section set in England reminded me, a little, of the work of Samuel Richardson. I haven't read Pamela, but I've read summaries and essays, but I did read Clarissa a long time ago.
(4) The Corsair who turns out to be noble - I've read this is something that turns up in a lot of "Enlightmenment" art, usually used to through an ironic light on shortcomings in European society. Mozart's opera Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail would be one example.

Ene 6, 2014, 4:39pm

> 85

To expand on point 2, Parsons keeps bringing "un-Gothic" moments of kindness or brisk good sense into her narrative!

Ene 6, 2014, 5:35pm

Not a problem, Andrew - it was good to have you here too!

These are all fair comments. Novels of this period (Protestant novels, as you point out) do tend to insist that (i) good people will be protected from harm, and (ii) good people will find happiness on earth, not just in heaven - even though both of these propositions actually contradict the tenets of Christianity. I've just read an extremely wrong-headed sentimental novel from this time, Munster Abbey, which divides its time between arguing that money cannot and does not bring happiness and that happiness is only to be found in heaven, and bestowing enormous fortunes and estates upon its "good" characters and expounding on their "many years of uninterrupted felicity".

The idea that God will quickly intervene to protect good people essentially disallows any real danger from threatening Parsons characters - at least, in the present tense. Terrible things happen to Victoria, but not while the reader is watching, only "off-stage". The same is true of Matilda's parents. We get the feeling that Parsons herself didn't believe what she was arguing, and compromised by placing her violence at a distance.

Yes, the attitude of The Monk could hardly be more different!

The world of Castle Of Wolfenbach is overtly historically later than that of Richardson's novels; this is particularly noticeable in the amount of travelling the characters do and the emphasis upon broad social interaction (both of which, as I've mentioned, are unlikely inclusions for a Gothic novel).

I can appreciate the use of the Corsair as a kind of "nobble savage" (a figure that became very popular in sentimental fiction of this time, as it pushed back against the perceived unfeeling, over-civilised Age of Reason), but I haven't come across it before.

Brisk good sense, even more than kindness, is VERY unusual in a Gothic novel!! :)

Sep 12, 2016, 5:17pm

I finished The Castle of Wolfenbach. I really enjoyed it. Thank you again for the wonderful tutored reads Liz and the great questions you always ask Madeline.

Sep 12, 2016, 6:13pm

I'm glad this was useful to you, Roberta, and that you enjoyed the novel! :)

Dic 16, 2016, 10:17pm

>89 lyzard: I'm really happy that you found and used this thread. Isn't Liz a great tutor?!

Dic 17, 2016, 5:40pm

Aw, thank you! :)