The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story

The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story

Paperback(Third Edition)

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'Look, my lord! See heaven itself declares against your impious intentions!'

The Castle of Otranto (1764) is the first supernatural English novel and one of the most influential works of Gothic fiction. It inaugurated a literary genre that will be forever associated with the effects that Walpole pioneered. Professing to be a translation of a mysterious Italian tale from the darkest Middle Ages, the novel tells of Manfred, prince of Otranto, whose fear of an ancient prophecy sets him on a course of destruction. After the grotesque death of his only son, Conrad, on his wedding day, Manfred determines to marry the bride-to-be. The virgin Isabella flees through a castle riddled with secret passages. Chilling coincidences, ghostly visitations, arcane revelations, and violent combat combine in a heady mix that is both chilling and terrifying.

In this new edition Nick Groom's wide-ranging introduction explores the novel's Gothic context in the cultural movement that affected political and religious thinking before Walpole developed it as a literary style, helping to explain the novel's impact on contemporaries, its importance, and Walpole's pioneering innovations in the horror genre.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198704447
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/01/2014
Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
Edition description: Third Edition
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 214,325
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Horace Walpole, the 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 - 2 March 1797) was an English art historian, writer, antiquarian and Whig politician.

Nick Groom has published widely for both academic and popular readerships, with particular interest in questions of authenticity and the emergence of national and regional identity. His books include The Gothic (2012) for the Very Short Introductions series, The Union Jack: the Story of the British Flag (Atlantic, 2006), and The Seasons: an Elegy for the Passing of the Year (Atlantic, 2013).

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The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
MissWoodhouse1816 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting, if short, introduction to the Gothic genre. Included are all the classic elements- mysterious characters, long lost children, giant's armour and legs, sudden death, cruel tyrants, caves, secret passageways, and peasants who are more than they seem. Oh yes, and portraits walk around too...
trinityM82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The original soap opera. It takes place in Italy, over the course of a few days. There is a young peasant of noble blood, Theodore, a princess who is more virtuous than reality allows (Matilda) a villan with a good heart who is paying for the crimes of his grandfather (Manfred) and a daughter and a father who are rightful heirs to the land of Otranto. It's pretty humourous, the outlandish dialogue and events. There are ghosts and saints that are interceding on behalf of Isabelle and Frederic, so that Manfred and his family are punished according to biblical justice. There is no happy ending - Manfred kills his daughter on mistake - he thought it was Isabelle who he wanted to marry in order to ensure sons and his claim to the throne. Theodore was in love with Matilda, after only a few hours of acquaintance, and he marries Isabelle so that they can spend the rest of their days missing her together. Bizzarre, but obviously the origin of many genres. Also nice and short!
katelisim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
3 StarsI read this one for my British Literature class. The Prince of Otranto, Manfred, arranges the marriage of his 15 yr old son, Conrad, to Princess Isabella. An unfortunate event on the wedding day, in the form of a huge falling helmet from the sky, kills poor Conrad. Instead of sending Isabella back home, Manfred decides he will marry her, since his wife hasn't produced a suitable heir for him. Of course, Isabella is completely against that.This is the original gothic novel. And being such, is filled with castles, underground tunnels, ghostly activity, and a prophecy. I thought this book was a fast fun read. Some of its over dramatic bits were hilarious, including the line "Ah me, I am slain" -- just wonderful. It was easier to read than I thought, with it being written well over 200 yrs ago. The story also moved nice and fast, instead of getting hung up on trivial details like so many modern novels do.
Kaydence on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Castle of Oranto describes a tyrant of a father that wants to have an heir to ensure that his property stays within the family. However, this tyrant actually was the recipient of the land through unlawful means. There is a supernatural curse upon the family that states whenever the true heir of the lands becomes too big then the tyrant would be overthrown. The first catastrophe that happens is the only son of the tyrant is slain on his wedding day. Along with this discovery is a gigantic helmet. The tyrant then decides that he is going to divorce his wife and marry the woman that he had secured for his son. When he divulges this plan to the bride to be (Isabella), she flees the castle for the church on the property. A peasant is charged with the murder of the tyrant¿s son, but gets away and helps Isabella escape. A chase ensues. The tyrant looks for Isabella, but finds the peasant. At this time, his servants swear they see a giant foot. The story then has many more twists and turns until almost everyone dies, or is about to die. It was very entertaining. I think I have found a new/old genre to enjoy. As a gothic novel, it has a supernatural aspect (the giant), a lady in distress (actually all of them are at some point in time), and the whole story takes place in a castle that has endless mazes, a haunted forest with caves, and a few hidden passages. The book is very suspenseful and a little overdramatic, especially in dealings with love, jealousy, and possible death.
cdeuker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting as part of English literary history, but not much else. Manfred is the usurper of Otranto. His son is killed by a huge helmet that falls on him--God definitely giving Manfred a hint. But Manfred isn't listening. He decides he needs a new wife to give him a new son, and thereby sets in action his own downfall. Surprisingly, he lives, though he does (along the way) murder his daughter. The rightful heir of Otranto takes possession. All ends . . . not quite happily . . . but things are set to right.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: When the Lord of Otranto's only son is killed on the morning of his wedding day (crushed by a giant metal helmet that appeared out of nowhere, no less), the Lord begins to scheme. In a desperate attempt to secure more heirs, he pursues Isabella, his son's promised bride. She (understandably) flees in terror, aided by a young villager, and so begins several days of terror and unbelievable happenings, complete with walking portraits, giant swords, black knights, secret tunnels, long-lost sons, mysterious prophecies, deathbed confessions, and love at first sight.Review: Holy cow. People used to read this? This is the highest form of melodrama, coupled with a bizarre kind of ghost story, and all rendered in prose so overwrought and purple that it's approaching ultraviolet. I couldn't ever get into the story because I kept thinking "....really?!?", and there was so much wailing and clutching at clothing that I never sympathized with any of the characters, either. I understand that the over-done and over-emphasized version of *everything* was the style, and that by reading this out of context and out of its time, I'm almost certainly judging it by an unfair set of standards. But MY GOD, everything about this was just So Much - so much drama, so many plot twists, so many coincidences and strange unexplained happenings, so many epiphanies and raging emotions and Dramatic Speeches - that it wound up feeling like a high school drama production. I feel like Shakespeare would have read this and been like "Damn, that's a lot of melodrama. Now let me go see if I can squeeze another death into the end of Hamlet." 2 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: It didn't do much for me, but I'm a total Philistine and I read it totally devoid of any historic context. Those who are better-versed in the literary period than I am will almost definitely have an easier time of things.
jstuart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Said by some (like W. S. Lewis) to be the first Gothic novel in English literature, this 1674 novel offers every element now considered to be characteristic of Gothic horror. Here, Walpole set the standard for supernatural armour, furtive friars, family curses, and things that go bump in the castle vaults!
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