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The Castle of Otranto (1764)

de Horace Walpole

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First published pseudonymously in 1764, The Castle of Otranto purported to be a translation of an Italian story of the time of the crusades. In it Walpole attempted, as he declared in the Preface to the second edition, `to blend the two kinds of romance: the ancient and the modern'. He givesus a series of catastrophes, ghostly interventions, revelations of identity, and exciting contests. Crammed with invention, entertainment, terror, and pathos, the novel was an immediate success and Walpole's own favourite among his numerous works. His friend, the poet Thomas Gray, wrote that he andhis family, having read Otranto, were now `afraid to go to bed o'nights'.The novel is here reprinted from a text of 1798, the last that Walpole himself prepared for the press.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 103 (següent | mostra-les totes)
And so, after having enjoyed several interesting articles about it (most recently this review by writer and critic Ted Gioa) and after referring to it extensively in a blog post of my own (without ever having actually read it), I finally finished Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto.

Considered in isolation, this slight novel is, frankly, underwhelming, especially to modern readers. A faux-medieval tale of chivalric derring-do and supernatural goings-on in a dark Italian castle, its convoluted plot is at best unconvincing and at worst bordering on the unintelligible. The characters are disappointingly two-dimensional, the dialogue overly melodramatic. The otherworldly elements are so unsubtle as to come across as grotesque (the novel starts with Conrad, the heir of a noble family, crushed under a giant plumed helmet which has appeared out of thin air) and the novel’s intentionally humorous streak dashes any chance of us feeling any spine-tingling fear just as surely as the “fearful casque” mangles Conrad’s body.

Yet, this 1764 novel deserves respect as (probably) the first Gothic novel, the unlikely instigator of a genre which would give rise to such undoubted masterpieces as, amongst countless others, [b:Frankenstein|18490|Frankenstein|Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1381512375s/18490.jpg|4836639] and [b:The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde|51496|The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde|Robert Louis Stevenson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1318116526s/51496.jpg|3164921]. The Gothic is a genre that still lives on modern horror and weird fiction and its influences spread well beyond the confines of literature.

Seen in this light, The Castle of Otranto starts to reveal merits which might not be immediately obvious. The obsession with the supernatural, the OTT dramatic language, the neo-medievalisms were striking and innovative at the time when the novel was written. What might now seem “facile cliches” (crumbling castles, subterrenean passages, chivalric ideals) would only become “Gothic tropes” after other authors jumped on the Walpole bandwagon. The uncomfortable mix of horror and humour was a peculiarly English trait with roots in Chaucer and Shakespeare. And, underneath the novel’s self-indulgent trappings, there was also an element of radical social critique – the heads of the family come across as abusive, scheming and manipulative; the female characters are not as submissive as (18th century) society might have wanted them to be (Isabella is promised in marriage to the weak Conrad but openly admires other more beautiful knights; Princess Matilda, also pressed into marriage, resists these suggestions and first entertains thoughts of taking the veil then falls in love with a travelling peasant).

Walpole’s novel might, in our day and age, be entertaining for all the wrong reasons, but one cannot deny its incredibly far-reaching cultural impact.

https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2018/10/feat-gothique-review-of-first-gothic.... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
The story of Manfred, lord of the castle, and his family. It begins on the wedding-day of his sickly son Conrad and princess Isabella. Shortly before the wedding, however, Conrad is crushed to death by a gigantic helmet. This inexplicable event is particularly ominous in light of an ancient prophecy, "that the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it". Manfred, terrified that Conrad's death signals the beginning of the end for his line, resolves to avert destruction by marrying Isabella himself, while divorcing his current wife, Hippolita, who he feels has failed to bear him a proper heir due to the sickly condition of Conrad before his untimely death.

However, as Manfred attempts to marry Isabella, she escapes to a church with the aid of a peasant named Theodore. Manfred orders Theodore's death while talking to the friar Jerome, who ensured Isabella's safety at the church. When Theodore removes his shirt to be killed, Jerome recognizes a marking below his shoulder and identifies Theodore as his own son. Jerome begs for his son's life, but Manfred says Jerome must either give up the princess or his son's life. They are interrupted by a trumpet and the entrance of knights from another kingdom, who want to deliver Isabella. This leads the knights and Manfred to race to find her.

Theodore, having been locked in a tower by Manfred, is freed by Manfred's daughter, Matilda. He races to the underground church and finds Isabella. He hides her in a cave and blocks it to protect her from Manfred and ends up fighting one of the mysterious knights. Theodore badly injures the knight, who turns out to be Isabella's father, Frederic. With that, they all go up to the castle to work things out. Frederic falls in love with Matilda and he and Manfred make a deal about marrying each other's daughters. Frederic backs out after being warned by an apparition of a skeleton.

The novel merges medievalism and terror in a style that has endured ever since. The aesthetic of the book has shaped modern-day gothic books, films, art, music and the goth subculture.

It is the first supernatural English novel, establishing many of the plot devices and character-types that would become typical of the Gothic novel: secret passages, clanging trapdoors, pictures beginning to move, and doors closing by themselves.

Is a fun read. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Feb 20, 2021 |
Well, that was...fun. Seriously, that was some major dramaaaaaaa. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
A great beach read. It surely has some contrived plot devices and some cardboard characters, but it is just fun and I had to finish it. I love gothic literature and you can see the roots Walpole created that would be honed over generations of writers. ( )
  drew_asson | Dec 3, 2020 |
Bastante decepcionante, esta precursora de la novela gótica que, enlazando una situación absurda tras otra, se me caía de las manos a pesar de su corta longitud.Se le da el pase por preconizar todo lo que vino después, y es quizás lo único que disculpa, y tal vez obligue, a su lectura. ( )
  Eucalafio | Oct 29, 2020 |
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» Afegeix-hi altres autors (165 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Walpole, Horaceautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Brilli, AttilioCol·laboradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Del Buono, OresteTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gamer, MichaelEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Groom, NickEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Jason, NevilleNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Keeping, CharlesIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mudrick, MarvinIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Praz, MarioPròlegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Scott, Sir WalterIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Varma, Devendra P.Introduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Zanolli, ChiaraTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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First published pseudonymously in 1764, The Castle of Otranto purported to be a translation of an Italian story of the time of the crusades. In it Walpole attempted, as he declared in the Preface to the second edition, `to blend the two kinds of romance: the ancient and the modern'. He givesus a series of catastrophes, ghostly interventions, revelations of identity, and exciting contests. Crammed with invention, entertainment, terror, and pathos, the novel was an immediate success and Walpole's own favourite among his numerous works. His friend, the poet Thomas Gray, wrote that he andhis family, having read Otranto, were now `afraid to go to bed o'nights'.The novel is here reprinted from a text of 1798, the last that Walpole himself prepared for the press.

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Mitjana: (3.09)
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Penguin Australia

Penguin Australia ha publicat 2 edicions d'aquest llibre.

Edicions: 0140437673, 0141191953

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