- Paperback: 146 pages
- Publisher: Bibliolis Books (10 May 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1907727167
- ISBN-13: 978-1907727160
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.9 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,520,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Castle of Otranto Paperback – 10 May 2010
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By turns lurid, sensational and amusing, this eighteenth-century gothic romance remains a tour de force. --The Guardian
Containing a Harry Potter-like array of animated portraits, supernatural adventures in vaults and cellars and astonishing, inexplicable events --The Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717 - 1797) was the youngest son of British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and was also a cousin of Admiral Lord Nelson. Born in London, Walpole was educated at Eton College before going on to study at King's College, Cambridge. In 1741 he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Whig party and served as an MP until 1768. In 1764 he anonymously published The Castle of Otranto, now generally regarded as the first gothic novel. This tale of romance and the supernatural was influenced by a number of writings, not least Shakespeare's Hamlet, and set the template for future writers such as Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe. Horace Walpole died in 1797. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Not only that, there was no foreword, no footnotes, no interpretation at all. I think a little editorial gloss would have helped to put the story in context and pick up on the nuances in the text. This lack of any explanation makes me wary of buying the other books in the series, despite the fact that I'm interested in reading quite a few of them! I will probably choose different editions if I do get these.
The story itself is worth reading, even if mostly from curiosity, as it conforms to many of the stereotypes of implausible romantic fiction! However, this is only from the point of view of modern hindsight: this was an innovative book when it was written. Again, a good introduction would have helped to highlight this.
In summary... a fun read, but probably best to get a different edition!
That said it is a must read for lovers of the Gothic novel, as it is the first ever written and published in England. It opened a door in English literature for writers like Ann Radcliffe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley and created the Gothic genre.
The Author, Horace Walpole was the son of an English Prime Minister and he wrote this novel and published it in his own publishing house (Strawberry Hill) under an assumed name. The novel was claimed to come from ancient writings and Walpole didn't admit to ownership of it until a much later edition. Why? Because the gothic novel didn't exist yet, only one other Gothic novel had ever been written before this one (in Germany, The Monk), so Walpole was unsure of the reaction this kind of novel would get in England. In taking this chance with his own reputation, Walpole created a new genre in literature, the gothic novel.
The novel follows Manfred and his family in the Castle of Otranto. When his son Conrad is killed on his wedding day (being crushed by a giant helmet) Manfred feels it is a sign that his lineage is doomed, so he decides to marry the beautiful Isabella (Conrad's intended bride) himself, and do away with his own wife.
It's a dark and interesting tale, delightfully shocking for the time period and provides a wonderful insight to the Gothic genre and its beginnings. There are also some great literary themes to watch out for, sex and gender being the most predominant. I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest in Gothic literature, because it is where it all began.
The Castle of Otranto with its comic moments, supernatural themes and plot devices; its story lines involving mistaken identity, deception, romance and even incest became a very influential literary classic and is highly recommended - sensational!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Short but fun tale about a haunted Italian castle. Quite hard to read the dialogue without speech marks though! Read morePublished 13 days ago by TallyCat
Teeny tiny faint print is the only problem. But I rather expected this. Book looks new.Published 8 months ago by ronnies1
I read this book because of its frequent occurrence in quizzes - "what was the first gothic novel?" I wonder how many people have actually read it. Read morePublished 8 months ago by A. C. Dickens
After reading, I really don't think it was a Gothic book, certainly nothing like the classics of Dracula or Frankenstein. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
as a novel it is ok but it is the first gothic novel so has to be read for that reasonPublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Couldn't quite get on with this one. Bit too antiquatedly Goth for me! Bought it as was so famous a novel and actually have visited Walpole's house at Strawberry Hill and visited... Read morePublished 13 months ago by mr.marcus
This is a difficult book to review. There is little hope that a modern reader can respond in anything approaching the spirit of those who first encountered it in its own time. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Bluecashmere.