Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

As one of the very first gothic novels, I’ve been looking forward to reading The Castle of Otranto. It’s mentioned by fictional characters in various later novels as sensational, chilling, etc., and was one of the works which really kickstarted the gothic literary movement.

I wasn’t disappointed – although it’s only a short piece, we’re treated to ancient prophecies, virtuous maidens, dastardly scheming villains, ghostly apparitions, mistaken identities, and long-lost heirs – to name but a few. From the moment when the heir to Otranto is mysteriously crushed by a giant steel helmet on the way to his own wedding, plot twists and bizarre occurrences come thick and fast.

The unapologetic melodrama makes what is admittedly a raw example of a budding genre both enjoyable and vaguely amusing in its absurdity.

Good over-the-top stuff, with the added bonus of being an important part of literary history.

Next up: Vathek by William Beckford

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