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Vathek (1786)

de William Beckford

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1,1734313,839 (3.14)1 / 162
No words can describe the amazement of the courtiers when they beheld this rude merchant withstand the encounter unshocked. They all fell prostrate with their faces on the ground to avoid the risk of their lives, and continued in the same abject posture till the Caliph exclaimed in a furious tone, "Up, cowards! seize the miscreant! see that he be committed to prison and guarded by the best of my soldiers!… (més)
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Anglès (35)  Francès (3)  Castellà (2)  Suec (2)  Alemany (1)  Totes les llengües (43)
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Completely preposterous and not in a good way. I can see why this orgy of Oriental tropes would have been exciting to an 18th century European reader high on the Arabian Nights and hungry for more genies, giaours, dives, and dwarfs. It's a nauseating banquet of sherbets and cordials, served by massed ranks of eunuchs, mystics, and sacrificial first-borns, a horrible literary carbuncle melting down into a bilious slurry where plot decoheres and characters implode under the weight of their own absurdity.

Here's Vathek's mom preparing a magic potion:

By secret stairs, known only to herself and her son, she first repaired to the mysterious recesses in which were deposited the mummies that had been brought from the catacombs of the ancient Pharaohs. Of these she ordered several to be taken. From thence she resorted to a gallery, where, under the guard of fifty female negroes, mute, and blind of the right eye, were preserved the oil of the most venomous serpents, rhinoceros’ horns, and woods of a subtle and penetrating odour, procured from the interior of the Indies, together with a thousand other horrible rarieties. This collection had been formed for a purpose like the present, by Carathis herself, from a presentiment that she might one day enjoy some intercourse with the infernal powers, to whom she had ever been passionately attached, and to whose taste she was no stranger. ( )
  yarb | Jun 28, 2022 |
Precursor de Poe, Baudelaire, de Quincey y Huysmans, Beckford, prototipo del aristócrata británico extravagante y culto, rebelde y marginal, publicó en 1787 una novela, Vathek (Cuento árabe), sobre un califa que se entrega al servicio del diablo. Según Jorge L. Borges, que apreciaba mucho este relato, en ciertas páginas de Vathek se encuentra, como en ningún otro libro anterior, el horror sobrenatural en estado puro.
  Daniel464 | Mar 6, 2022 |
William Beckford wrote "The History of Caliph Vathek" in French in 1784, but it was first published in an English translation by Samuel Henley in 1786. Widely regarded as one of the seminal works of Gothic literature, this strange, unclassifiable novel recounts its eponymous protagonist's quest for esoteric knowledge and carnal pleasure, a quest which ultimately leads to his damnation.

"Vathek" combines exotic descriptions of the Orient with passages of grotesque comedy and a dollop of supernatural derring-do. Indeed, one of the challenges for modern sensibilities (and possibly its original readers as well) is to determine which passages should be taken at face value and which ones are to be read as self-parody. Even allowing for the genre's excesses, episodes such as that of a wizard being turned into a ball and kicked around Vathek's kingdom are clearly intended as black comedy. But what about Vathek's damnation, described in language of poetic intensity? Is the moralistic ending to be taken at face value or is Beckford being ironic? The author's letters suggest the former to be the case - which is rather surprising considering the atmosphere of decadence which permeates the novel.

If read purely for narrative pleasure, Vathek might disappoint. The plot is episodic, there are too many changes of gear, and the novel's ultimate message - if it does have one - is elusive and unclear. Yet, for anybody interested in early Romanticism, Orientalism, supernatural fiction or, for that matter, unusual literary fare, this is a must-read.

The Oxford World Classics text follows the 1816 English language version, prepared by Beckford himself. It includes an informative introduction by Roger Lonsdale which, interestingly, makes the case for *not* considering Vathek a Gothic novel. Also included are the erudite endnotes which Beckford included in the 1816 edition of Vathek (although first-time readers might prefer just reading through it and then consulting the notes on subsequent readings).

https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2020/03/William-Beckford-Vathek.html ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Jan 1, 2022 |
A faustian tale, written like something from the Arabian Nights. The style of writing can make some sentences confusing but overall its quite clear. Nicely weird in places, overall good but can drag a little. ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
Vathek capitalised on the eighteenth century obsession with all things Oriental, which was inspired by Antoine Galland's translation of The Arabian Nights (itself retranslated, into English, in 1708). Beckford was also influenced by similar works from the French writer Voltaire. His originality lay in combining the popular Oriental elements with the Gothic stylings of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764).

William Beckford wrote Vathek in French in 1782, when he was 21. He often stated that Vathek was written as an emotional response to "the events that happened at Fonthill at Christmas 1781", when he had prepared an elaborate Orientally-inspired entertainment at his lavish country estate with the assistance of renowned painter and set designer Philip James de Loutherbourg. Beckford said that it took him only two to three days and the intervening nights to write the entire book.

Vathek was written during a time when part of European culture was influenced by Orientalism. It is an Arabian tale because of the oriental setting and characters and the depiction of oriental cultures, societies, and myth. Vathek is also a Gothic novel with its emphasis on the supernatural, ghosts, and spirits, as well as the terror it tries to induce in the reader.

The title character is inspired by al-Wathiq (Arabic: الواثق‎), son of al-Mu'tasim, an Abbasid caliph who reigned in 842–847 (227–232 AH in the Islamic calendar) who had a great thirst for knowledge and became a great patron to scholars and artists. During his reign, a number of revolts broke out. He took an active role in quelling them. He died of fever on 10 August 847.

The narrative of Vathek uses a third person, omniscient, semi-intrusive narrator. The novel, while it may lend itself to be divided into chapters, is one complete manuscript without pause. ( )
1 vota Marcos_Augusto | Aug 28, 2021 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
William Beckfordautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Bawden, EdwardIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Benda, WolframTranslator and Afterwordautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Benda, WolframTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Blaine, MahlonIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Blei, FranzÜbersetzerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Camerino, AldoTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Carter, LinIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Cruz, RayAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Damman, BenjaminEngraver.autor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Elie, PaulIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Emmett, R.J.Introduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Fitz-Gerald, SJ AdairIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Graham, Kenneth W.Editorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Grimsditch, Herbert B.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Håkansson, GabriellaEpílegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Helnwein, GottfriedIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Helnwein, GottfriedIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Henley, SamuelTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Isfelt, ArthurTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lonsdale, RichardEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lonsdale, RogerEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Marzials, Frank T.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Moravia, AlbertoPròlegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Morley, HenryEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
North, WilliamPròlegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Paoletti, GiovanniEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pentleton, CarolDissenyadorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pintor, GiaimeTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Redon, OdilonIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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The long and extravagant career of the author of Vathek would surely have impressed Samuel Johnson as a notable and sustained illustration of what his Imlac had called (in his own very different 'oriental' tale) 'that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life'. (Introduction)
Vathek, ninth Caliph of the race of the Abassides, was the son of Motassem, and the grandson of Haroun al Raschid.
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Contains only Vathek. Please do not combine with editions containing The Episodes of Vathek or other works.
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Cap

No words can describe the amazement of the courtiers when they beheld this rude merchant withstand the encounter unshocked. They all fell prostrate with their faces on the ground to avoid the risk of their lives, and continued in the same abject posture till the Caliph exclaimed in a furious tone, "Up, cowards! seize the miscreant! see that he be committed to prison and guarded by the best of my soldiers!

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Mitjana: (3.14)
0.5 2
1 16
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2 27
2.5 7
3 76
3.5 14
4 48
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