The Castle of Otranto
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The Castle of Otranto

3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  8,062 ratings  ·  679 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 125 pages
Published July 16th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1764)
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“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...more
Oct 31, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people who like falling millinery
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list - bastards!

(NB do not assume that said death will be unrelated to the reading of this book.... boredom kills, people.)

This book is very Shakespearian in style and therefore metaphorically and allegorically weighty despite being such a short, light paperback book. I was suckered into reading this because it was a short read. You know how it is, on a whim sometime ago (Christmas 2009), you manfully pledge to r...more
Ben Debus
Having spent three years in Bloomington getting drunk with fiction writers, I feel that I came dangerously close to losing my ability to appreciate trash. But, thankfully, not so! _The Castle of Otranto_, by Horace Walpole, is not only trash, but ground-breaking, historical, trend-setting trash. It is lauded as the first Gothic novel in English (published, anonymously at first, in 1764). And what a remarkable heap of words it is!

_The Castle of Otranto_ is preposterous, both in content and struct...more
Henry Avila
Prince Manfred of Otranto in Italy,is looking forward to the wedding of his only son Conrad.The family name must continue!In these violent times (the era of the Crusades),Italian politics dictates that noblemen have sons, to leave all their land and wealth. It doesn't matter that Conrad is only fifteen and sickly.The family of the Prince is composed of the son Conrad,Matilda the daughter, three years older than her brother and the pious wife of Manfred ,Hippolita .Isabella is the intended bride,...more
Milena March
The Otranto Observer:

Prince Gets Squashed by Giant Airborne Helmet! Full News on Page Six!
Lord of Otranto Says - "Sorry, the Castle Ain't Mine!"
FULL Interview with Covergirl Isabella - "He was Never the One for Me!"
Love Advice from Star-Struck Pair! Theodore and Matilda Tell All - How YOU Can Find True Love in Just Ten Seconds!
Jerome and Hippolita's 'Faithful's Corner': Why Entering a Monastery's the Only Way to Go!
The Commoner's Chronicle: Bianca and her Fellows Tell Why THEY'RE the Ones Who S...more
Although this is a rather tedious novel which almost reads like an absurd parody of itself today, you can still recognize the stamps of what eventually became Gothic literature. Occult rituals, madness, unseen violence, supernatural events, melodrama, sexual perversion, and so on and so on.

It seems rather tiresome today, but that might be because of all that it has inspired, and so many authors who, working in its image, have surpassed it.
Feb 28, 2009 Peter added it
Taken out of historical context, The Castle of Otranto is a fun escape into knights, maidens, curses, magic, dynasties, rivalries, and terror. It was, as Horace Walpole argued in one of his introductions, an attempt to establish a new gothic style of writing. In this way, the novel is a comic thriller. It presents realistic reactions to imaginary actions, and it injects comedy to counter to grim tragedy.

But taken in historical context, the novel seems to respond to formative events in Walpole’s...more
Sep 01, 2007 A. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who love thinking or saying, ""
Good old Horace Walpole. Like any literary figure, historians are niggling over the "is he or isn't he" details, but why isn't anyone looking into his freakish obsession with Gothic castles? His goal: "I am going to build a little Gothic castle at Strawberry Hill", and he asked his friends for any fragments of old painted glass, armour, or anything. And thus was born Strawberry Hill, the baby Castle of Otranto.

Otranto (the book) came from that foggy time when novels, while trying to present them...more
Jan 31, 2013 Caris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
If Titus Andronicus is the literary equivalent to a b-movie, then The Castle of Otranto is one of those SyFy straight-to-cable originals. Titus is Dead Alive; Otranto is Sharktopus.

I read this book for a class on Gothic fiction. Word is it set the standard for everything that came after. For me, that puts the whole body of Gothic work into question, as Otranto is pretty much just a hodgepodge of Shakespearean motifs scotch taped together.

(view spoiler):...more
Portents and parables. Tainted heritage. Ghouliess and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties.

This was just for fun. I was hoping for something quick and melodramatic. After reading a paragraph, I knew it would fit the bill. The quick part became a lil sludgy sometimes. The language was sometimes less than clear. It could be the high diction, or simple word choice; or it could be the ebook edition I read was in need of another round of proofing.

As many a reviewer has stated, this is it, the grandd...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 15, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Jzhunagev (who loves horror genre)
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books and 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Shelves: 1001-core, 501, gothic
Somewhere in north of England. Between the era of the first crusade, 1095 and 1243, the date of the last. In a old castle called the Otranto. The story opened with the Conrad, 15-y/o son and only heir of Otranto's prince, Manfred was killed by the helmet of a statue of the previous prince Alfonso. On that day, Conrad was about to marry Princess Isabelle. With no other heir and to save his lordship, Manfred thought of divorcing his wife, Hipollita and offered himself to be Isabelle's husband. The...more
The Fza
Feb 25, 2008 The Fza rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to The Fza by: Charrolee thompson

I was given this book to read with the preface, "I was not a fan, but I have a feeling you'd like this." And all of a sudden I was in an old world made new... to me.

The Castle of Otranto has a history as interesting and strange as the tale w/in it's pages. Know as the first Gothic Novel (Gothic fiction is a genre of literature that combines horror, romance and mystery offset by elements of fantasy), the book was purported to be a translation based on a manuscript printed near Na...more
Ugh this book. If I hadn't had to read this for university, I would not have managed it past the first page!
I've seen a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews of this book. Why I don't understand. This is considered one of the best Gothic fiction novels, but all it did was bore me.
Then piss me off. 'It is not ours to make election for ourselves; heaven, our fathers, and our husbands, must decide for us.' I just wanted to grab Hippolita and shake her while screaming GET.A.GRIP. Im so glad women aren't l...more
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 Udolpho's heir flattened by a gigantic helmet and the exciting sequence of Isabella's flight through the castle's subterranean darkness--a...more
I feel like I need to get this straight right off the bat: The Castle of Otranto is not a parody of over-the-top Gothic novels. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not. It's considered the first Gothic novel, so it's probably not a parody. I feel like the unwary reader could come to that conclusion, but no. It's actually unintentionally hilarious.

I'd like to say something good about this book... But I can't come up with anything. The dialog is horrible, and melodramatic. The story itself is entirely...more
Horace Walpole's 1764 Castle of Otranto is generally given credit as the first Gothic novel, which makes it interesting from a historical perspective, especially if you're into Gothic stuff, which I totally am because whee, virgins fleeing evil men in drafty castles in their nightgowns! Which this book totally has, and also enormous helmets falling from the sky and crushing dudes, which I can't decide if that's a bummer of a way to go or not.

From a literature perspective, it's pretty much avera...more
Il castello di Otranto è stato scritto di getto, in due soli mesi, da Horace Walpole, figlio dell'allora attuale primo ministro inglese, per "distrarsi dalle occupazioni politiche". E il fatto che sia un ripiego per compensare le fatiche del negotium si sente.
Tralasciando gli elementi che al tempo (fine Settecento) dovevano essere clamorosi e di grande impatto ma che oggi risultano un po' fuori luogo e stridono con le aspettative del lettore - e con ciò mi riferisco agli elementi sovrannaturali...more
Golly, that was fun. The plot and over-the-top language make The Castle of Otranto just sufficiently absurd to keep the comedy front and centre stage, more Monty Python or Mervyn Peake than Nora Roberts. The young prince squashed by a giant helmet in the first few pages is still one of the funniest scenes in literature.

Many writers have tried unsuccessfully to copy or satirise The Castle of Otranto. What Horace Walpole did that these second-liners missed is provide a decent story written in pla...more
An absurd little book, this would be a curiosity now if it hadn't been the one that spawned one of the most popular genres in literary history. For that alone it is, of course, worth reading but it's not likely to appeal to most modern day readers for two reasons. Firstly, it's terribly written and secondly, it's terribly written. Lord knows few enough people seem to enjoy reading prose that predates 1950 when it's done well.

When I first read this it didn't stand out as one of the great achievem...more
Phil Jensen
This is it! The formative Gothic novel. I recommend this above Frankenstein or Dracula, and almost above Jekyll & Hyde. It has everything you could want from the genre.

Walpole kicks off with the genre-standard cover letter explaining that this is, in fact a medieval Italian manuscript! Any wackiness can be blamed on Catholicism! (That probably explains the vacillating monk character.) The preface is somewhat tedious, especially if you've read this kind of thing before.

Chapter 1 delivers the...more
☽ Moon ☯ 佛月球 Будда Луны
A SPECTRE OF FATE [An Ominous Prophecy? As The Past Devours The Future Through The Pure Present]

The Present is the result of Past Events that move towards a Definite Future.

Highlighted by the presence of superior forces, apparition of ghosts, the culmination of an ominous prophecy and a protagonist about to succumb to his demise, the perusal of THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO is like a Greek drama unfolding. As Greek tragedies seem to be the blueprint of Horace Walpole to create this Gothic novel.

In Murak...more
Lo lessi quando avevo 11 anni. Mi trovavo in una sala d'attesa, prima di una visita medica, e sapevo che avrei dovuto aspettare ore. Mia madre comprava ogni settimana in edicola i libretti di questa collana, e quel giorno aveva nella borsetta "Il castello di Otranto" di Walpole; così cominciai a leggerlo, e mi piacque davvero tanto! Forse la mia ingenuità di bambino mi aiutò a comprendere quella del romanzo. Intrighi familiari e di potere, fantasmi, apparizioni spaventose. Credetti addirittura a...more
Marts  (Thinker)
The Castle of Otranto tells of Manfred and his family, it begins with his son Conrad being crushed by a mysterious giant helmet that seems to just fall from the sky.....
Well Manfred is frightened that his sons death signals the end of his line, so he then attempts to marry Isabella who was supposed to marry his son and divorce his wife. But Isabella escapes....
Well a peasant named Theodore save Isabella and shes hidden in the church....
Guess what, the peasant is the true prince of Otranto..........more
Mediocre horror or slapstick comedy? Walpole aptly demonstrates that the distance between the poles is not nearly as far as your college lit professor (and Twilight) would have you believe.
Mel Bossa
This was my second read and I really took the time to read the introduction and research Horace Walpole's life. When you read this Gothic romance with his life in mind, and of course, the period the book was written in (end of the eighteen century, moments before all of the upheaval in politics and social structure in England and France), the story seems much deeper and laced with meaning/intent.

Horace, from what I understand, was an MP, and while he was not known to be very outspoken in parlia...more
Alas, I found Otranto a bit of a yawn: paper-thin characterization, blunt exposition, and a folk-story's measure of plot stretched out to novella length with no real compensations of style or insight.

I wonder if this represents the growing pains of English-language literature as it moved from dramatic forms toward the long-narrative novel. Walpole had clearly read his Shakespeare, and his idea of pacing is to throw in a few funny dialog scenes featuring servants to mix it up with the serious sc...more
Helen Francini
Medieval Italian Prince has, if not quite the original dysfunctional family, then certainly one of the worst; multiple disasters ensue.

The good: Horace Walpole probably deserves lots of kudos for trying to create a new form of literature; _The Castle of Otranto_ is, after all, credited as being the first Gothic novel.

The bad: dear God, where do I begin. It was not the wordiness (not nearly as loquacious as Dickens, who was a much better writer) or the antique language, both of which sounded qu...more
The Castle of Otranto was written in 1764 by Horace Walpole. Besides being the author of the "first" gothic novel he was also a member of Parliment, an art historian and the 4th Earl of Orford.

Originally he anonymously published The Castle of Otranto claiming on its title page that it was a translation "from the Original Italian of Onuphirio Muralto". I'm not sure if he intended for people to believe it actually was a true story, but it certainly makes me smile thinking that anyone might have...more
From Badelynge
Manfred is having a really bad day. No really, he's having a really, really bad day. It all starts with his son being crushed to death by a gigantic helmet that falls out of the sky. And his day is going to get much worse.
The Castle of Otranto was written in 1764 by Horace Walpole. So many times I have heard the name of this book being dropped by literary historians citing its place as the forerunner to the gothic novel, works that would include author's such as Poe, Stoker and Du...more
Maybe my expectations were too high for the "first Gothic novel", but I didn't much care for this one. The story has enough twists and turns that it should be engaging, but the writing never really drew me in. Some of the plot elements are so silly as to verge on the comically absurd, which doesn't mesh well with the writing style. My reaction is probably due to the fact that I just picked this one up for some light summer reading. I imagine it would be far more interesting if read as part of a...more
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The Gothic Novel ...: General Discussion 5 18 Feb 19, 2014 09:58PM  
  • Vathek
  • The Italian
  • Amelia
  • Caleb Williams
  • The Old English Baron
  • Melmoth the Wanderer
  • The Adventures of Roderick Random
  • The Monk
  • The Man of Feeling
  • The Female Quixote: or, the Adventures of Arabella
  • Camilla
  • Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist
  • Love in Excess
  • The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia
  • Nightmare Abbey
  • The Vicar of Wakefield
  • Roxana
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, was an English art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and politician. He is now largely remembered for Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London where he revived the Gothic style some decades before his Victorian successors, and for his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto. Along with the book, his literary reputation rests on his L...more
More about Horace Walpole...
Three Gothic Novels : The Castle of Otranto ~ Vathek ~ Frankenstein Four Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto; Vathek; The Monk; Frankenstein Rinehart Editions - The Castle of Otranto, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Northanger Abbey The Castle of Otranto, Vathek & Nightmare Abbey Hieroglyphic Tales

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“I can forgive injuries, but never benefits.” 8 likes
“He was persuaded he could know no happiness but in the society of one with whom he could for ever indulge the melancholy that had taken possession of his soul.” 8 likes
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