The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

The Castle of Otranto

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.” Crammed with invention, entertainment, terror, and pathos, the novel was an immediate succe

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    Bill  Kerwin


    This granddaddy of all Gothics is still worth a read. It has its flaws, but Walpole’s style is crisp and economical, and the book itself is mercifully brief.

    Manfred possesses all the important features of the classic gothic hero that Mrs. Radcliffe and others would later use to great advantage, and the initial scenes–particularly the surrealistic tableau of Manfred’s heir flattened by a gigantic helmet and the exciting sequence of Isabella’s flight through the castle’s subterranean darkness–a

    Manfred possesses all the important features of the classic gothic hero that Mrs. Radcliffe and others would later use to great advantage, and the initial scenes–particularly the surrealistic tableau of Manfred’s heir flattened by a gigantic helmet and the exciting sequence of Isabella’s flight through the castle’s subterranean darkness–are still powerful today.

    Things bog down in the middle, slowed by sentimental dialogue and overcomplicated plot points, but the owner of the helmet himself appears at the end (a deus ex maximus?) in a climax worthy of Dali and Bunuel. Manfred’s dynasty crumbles, and so do the walls of Otranto, in an ending that would influence Poe’s “Usher” some seventy years later.
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    Stephen

    “CLASSICS” can teach us a great deal about things like history, culture, customs and different literary styles. From this book I learned that classics CAN ALSO REALLY, REALLY SUCK!!! Now before continuing, I would like to be clear that when I say this book sucked, I don’t mean “it was well written but kinda dry and boring”sucked. No, I mean planets and stars being pulled toward the event horizon of a black hole suckage. In other words, suckage on a grand and towering scale.

    Now, in fairness, it

    Now, in fairness, it should be noted that the book was written in 1764 and is widely considered to be the first ever Gothic novel. This highlights two things. First, that there was at least one really, really crappy book published in the 18th century. Second, as the first gothic novel, it has the additional distinction of being the first gothic novel to really, really suck.

    The book centers around Manfred, who is the lord of a Castle Otranto. As the story begins, Manfred’s day gets off to a really bad start when his sickly son gets crushed by a massive helmet that falls on him inexplicably from above. You might be wondering where the giant helmet came from and how it happened to fall. Well reading the book won’t help…….BECAUSE IT IS NEVER EXPLAINED. It just sort of happens… which just sort of sucks.

    So anyway, the son’s death leads Manfred to believe that an ancient prophecy is coming to pass which states that his ownership of the castle will cease “should the owner be grown too large to inhabit it.” [Begin confused look]…. I have no idea what that means.

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    Well Manfred decides that he can best avoid the prophecy by divorcing his first wife and marrying his dead son’s fiancé so that she can give him a proper heir. How does having another son fit in with stopping the prophecy? Can’t tell you…don’t know….me and and the baby above are still confused. Manfred tells his first wife the plan and she basically accepts being pushed aside for a younger woman without a peep. Basically, Mr. Walpole thought that portraying the first wife as an extreme doormat was just what the story needed. Well done, Horace. Way to write those strong female characters.

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    After that the rest of the book is mostly “I want to marry her, but she doesn’t want to marry me because she wants to marry him, who wants to marry someone else….and Manfred is a real prick.” That sums it up except that some more boring shit happens that really sucks and there is some chasing, some hiding, a couple of deaths and some mysterious yet incredibly boring knights from a neighboring kingdom.

    In sum, Castle of Otranto…….

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    Bookdragon Sean

    By today’s standard’s The Castle of Otranto is a ridiculous piece of melodrama. However, when it was originally published it was absolute dynamite.

    It had the power to shock and dazzle its earliest of readers. They were innocent and unused to horror; thus, it was utterly compelling for them. Such a thing is comparable to early cinema. Audiences were thrilled by silent movie car chases and actions scenes. If we watch them today they are unexciting and laughable. Truly great literature is timeless.

    It had the power to shock and dazzle its earliest of readers. They were innocent and unused to horror; thus, it was utterly compelling for them. Such a thing is comparable to early cinema. Audiences were thrilled by silent movie car chases and actions scenes. If we watch them today they are unexciting and laughable. Truly great literature is timeless. Frankenstein will never stop being brilliant nor will Dracula or Jane Eyre. Unfortunately, The Castle of Otranto is far from great literature. It is too stuck in its era to be considered effective and, structurally speaking, it is dreadful.

    There is no set up or beginning per say, but, again, Walpole is not entirely at fault because the novel was still very, very, new at this point. Austen had not yet come along to give it structure and meaning. On the first page of this we are introduced to the characters, their lineages and personalities. On page two one is crushed by an ethereal floating helmet of sorts. It’s like Walpole doesn’t quite know how to pace. Instead he has ideas, idea he cannot wait to blurt out at the first opportunity without first creating any sense of character.

    Although I found myself cringing at the plot, laughing at the overdone horror moments and yawning at the resolution, it would be remiss of me to ignore the book’s place in the cannon of horror literature. It was the first ever horror novel, effectively, it is a piece of writing that inspired other more talented writers to go on and produce better works. They took Walpole’s themes and ideas and perfected them. For those interested in tracking the development of the horror genre this is certainly and interesting to read.

    The best way to approach this is as an academic curiosity, a piece of writing that carries a lot of history and significance, but, ultimately, it isn’t that great to begin with.
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