Emotions Vocabulary and the Reconceptualisation of Emotions in Ann Radcliffe's "The Italian, or the Confessional of the Black Penitents"





Ann Radcliffe, passions, affections, emotions history, moral philosophy


The article undertakes the analysis of Ann Radcliffe's novel The Italian, or the Confessional of the Black Penitents (1797) from a history of literary emotions perspective which, I argue, yields insights into the attitudes towards emotions embedded in Radcliffe's works. A reading of the novel from such a perspective also complements the critical studies of the artist's engaging with the eighteenth-century cult of sensibility. The novel is read as a text that registered but also participated in the dissemination of an epistemology of emotional experience articulated in the idiom of eighteenth-century moral philosophers - Francis Hutcheson, David Hume and Adam Smith - at the same time as it retained some of the older, theology-based conceptions of passions and affections. The dynamic in which the two frameworks for understanding the emotions exist in the novel is explored through a close reading of the vocabulary in which Radcliffe rendered the emotional experiences of her fictional characters. In this reading it is the passions which are found to have been invested with a variety of meanings and attributed a range of moral valences that most noticeably foreground the movement from a generally negative towards a more complex appreciation of powerful emotions.

Author Biography

Elena D. Andonova-Kalapsazova, South-West University Neofit Rilski, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Elena Andonova-Klapsazova, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, Faculty of Philology at the South-West University “Neofit Rilskiâ€, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria where she teaches the introductory courses to English literature and contemporary literary theory to students of English Philology and Applied Linguistics. She has published articles and written a PhD thesis on novelistic intertextual rewritings of W. Shakespeare’s pastoral romance The Tempest. The focus of her current work is the reconceptualisation of emotions vocabulary as found in the works of Ann Radcliffe.


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How to Cite

Andonova-Kalapsazova, E. D. (2019). Emotions Vocabulary and the Reconceptualisation of Emotions in Ann Radcliffe’s "The Italian, or the Confessional of the Black Penitents". English Studies at NBU, 5(1), 40–58. https://doi.org/10.33919/esnbu.19.1.2