The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole ( Gothic NOVEL ) Paperback – 10 Apr 2017
|New from||Used from|
|Paperback, 10 Apr 2017||
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
129 customer reviews
Review this product
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Open Book.jpgIt’s important to remember that this was the first gothic novel, so whilst the events of the story may, to us, seem predictable, and whilst the dark dungeons and trap doors may, now, seem repetitive and unoriginal, readers during the Romantic period would have never imagined such scenes. It’s very different to anything that I have ever read before, perhaps due to the mere strangeness of the giant-figure, as this, unlike many other aspects of the novel, has not become a common gothic convention.
The most interesting thing about reading The Castle of Otranto probably lies in the comparisons that can be made to other gothic books. After all, isn’t the idea of a castle coming to life pretty much the main plot of Stephen King’s The Shining? And how often have we seen terrified damosels in white dresses running down dark corridors? I’m thinking particularly of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but the trope of the persecuted heroine appears throughout gothic literature.
Let me put it this way: I can understand why people don’t necessarily appreciate The Castle of Otranto, but I don’t agree with them. It may not be the most elaborate of gothic novels, but it was the first one! Walpole began a new genre of fiction, so, when considering that, is it really possible not to love The Castle of Otranto?
Again, a curiosity. Harmless - don't expect nightmares.
The first edition, "The Castle of Otranto: A Story, translated by William Marshal", was published in December 1764 (but marked 1765 on the title-page). It's preface tried - and succeeded for awhile - to give the impression that the tale had been "found in the library of an ancient catholic family in the north of England" and had been "printed at Naples ... in the year 1529. ... The style is the purest Italian."
The style was instead the purest Walpole and he quickly confessed; so that in the rapidly-issued second edition of 1765 (the book was an immediate hit), the revised preface became, as EJ Clery makes clear, "a manifesto for a new type of writing", and the title-page was amended to "The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story".
The inclusion of the adjective into the story's title is fundamental to the book's reputation as being the well-spring of much (all?) that followed in subsequent western literature that effected to underscore its credentials with a Gothic - or Gothick - motif. One could argue that that includes 90% of western literature (as much Thomas Pynchon as Stephen King), but this is going too far; for as Walpole himself makes plain in his second preface, his work was an attempt to marry imagination with nature, fantasy with reality, and that he had progenitors in the essay: "That great master of nature, Shakespeare, was the model I copied."
The story itself - a tale of lordly tyranny, supernatural horror, and family feuding that would have interested Shakespeare himself in its dramatic possibilities - is told over five chapters, barely one hundred pages in total, and so can be read in a few hours. As the excellent introduction relates, Walpole himself thought the story a piece of whimsy, and did not attempt to savagely repudiate the criticisms raised about both the style of writing and about the narrative itself. He was aware of the novella's power, however, in creating a new species of romance.
The work today is as much read for its historic relevance than for its terror and sublime effects, but both of these aspects recommend it.