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The Castle of Otranto

3.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  13,868 Ratings  ·  1,111 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 December 24th 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
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
Oct 31, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it
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
Milena March
Feb 17, 2011 Milena March rated it liked it
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
Ben Debus
Jun 07, 2008 Ben Debus rated it liked it
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
Sep 12, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: 18th-novels
2.5 stars rounded up
Shovel loads of gothicness with a daft plot and formulaic characters; this is regarded as the first gothic novel. Walpole tries to create a new genre quite consciously by combining the new romance style of eighteenth century novels and the older tradition of fantastical tales. Walpole also introduces a number of gothic tropes for the first time; strange and eerie goings on, things that go bump in the night, rapacious and predatory men, beautiful and endangered heroines and a
Henry Avila
Mar 14, 2013 Henry Avila rated it liked it
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
Jan 31, 2013 Caris rated it liked it
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):
Oct 29, 2013 Hadrian rated it it was ok
Shelves: british, fiction, horror
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.
Mar 05, 2015 Candi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The “infant” of gothic novels, The Castle of Otranto begins with plentiful theatrics and moves at a refreshingly quick pace. This was a very short, entertaining book full of bizarre and supernatural happenings, lots of drama, a villainous prince, gracious princesses (and perhaps one changeable princess), comic attendants, and mysterious strangers. An ancient prophecy shadows the castle and its inhabitants, and the reader gets a glimpse of the prophecy coming to fruition in the very first chapter ...more
Sep 22, 2015 Jonfaith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stevenmoore
We are all reptiles, miserable, sinful creatures. It is piety alone that can distinguish us from the dust whence we sprung, and whither we must return.

The Goodreads reviews of this pioneer work are a caravan of groans; how sophisticated we've since become with our forensics and our shape-shfting (very-meta) protagonists. I may shudder and say, whoa, and allow the blush to fade from our consternation. Otranto is ridiculous, sure, but it is damn charming. Anyone ever encountered a contrivance or l
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
Sep 01, 2007 A. rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mar 26, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-2015
This book read something like a gothic fairy tale / comedy ... I thoroughly enjoyed it -- ghosts, princesses, evil prince, mysterious knights.... peasant who turns out to be ?? What's not to like there?

I read this one for a Challenge / Buddy Read of the "Northanger Horrible" novels... (It was the SHORTEST of the 10 books, so may have to pick another!!)

Did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did! Written in 1764, the language is in itself fun, but can be challenging at points (and laugh out loud
Sotiris Karaiskos
Ερευνώντας την ιστορία του γοτθικού μυθιστορήματος έφτασα ακριβώς στη ρίζα, δηλαδή σε αυτό ακριβώς το βιβλίο. Από εδώ ξεκινάει η πορεία αυτού του είδους που αργότερα έδωσε αριστουργήματα και επηρέασε σε μεγάλο βαθμό την παγκόσμια λογοτεχνία. Βέβαια η αλήθεια είναι ότι μάλλον δεν είναι ιδιαίτερα καλό αυτό το μυθιστόρημα, αν και σίγουρα είναι ένα ανάγνωσμα απαραίτητο κυρίως για ιστορικούς λόγους.
Apr 01, 2015 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

I liked one sentence from The Castle of Otranto. In the middle of the tyrant Manfred's long-ass soliloquy to an enormous retinue of knights and other attendants a rival nobleman has sent to pay a visit, we get this: "The knights gazed on each other, wondering where this would end."
Jun 01, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 19, 2014 Maria rated it did not like it
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
Con ‘El castillo de Otranto’ (The Castle of Otranto, 1764), se inauguró la llamada literatura gótica: castillos encantados, mazmorras, corredores siniestros, criptas, doncellas en apuros, villanos de postín, caballeros que las rescatan, espectros, traición, amor, etc. Hay que mencionar que Horace Walpole optó en un principio por no firmar la novela con su verdadero nombre, algo que cambió en la segunda edición, tras el éxito de la obra.

La historia comienza cuando se está preparando la boda entre
Debbie Zapata
Mar 14, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it
Shelves: pg
I had seen the name Horace Walpole but I had never read about him or any of his work until this book, so I was interested in the introduction to the story, which gave some informtion about Walpole himself. He sounded like quite a character. Note these lines from a letter he wrote to a friend, which was quoted in that introduction: “I am sensible of having more follies and weaknesses and fewer real good qualities than most
men. I sometimes reflect on this, though, I own, too seldom. I always want
I while ago I read Northanger Abbey and while I enjoyed it I also felt like missing out on half of the jokes because while was vaguely aware that Gothic novels meant scary old castles, fair maidens and old curses I had never read one of them. So I eventually decided to read one (after buying it, putting it on my tbr-pile and forgetting about it again till yesterday).
As it happens The Castle of Otranto is actually the first novel that (in its second edition) was published as "Gothic Novel" and wo
The Fza
Feb 25, 2008 The Fza rated it it was amazing  ·  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
May 02, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
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
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
J.G. Keely
Another read for my research into early horror as I work on my own supernatural Victorian tale, but in the end I have to agree with Lovecraft's assessment in his Supernatural Horror in Literature that Walpole's style is insipid and full of silly melodrama. It's not hard to see why it was so influential, as it introduced a great number of interesting ideas and symbols, but like so many books that inspired a genre, its the fact that original author did so little with those ideas that left room for ...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
LOL. What a ridiculous fucking book. The birth of the gothic novel gets off to a riotous start complete with a haunted castle, a mysterious death, arrogant royals, a missing princess, trap doors, and Shakespearean insult measuring contests.
K.D. Absolutely
May 15, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  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
I'm glad I disregarded the negative reviews here on Goodreads because I enjoyed this little novel. First published in 1764, The Castle of Otranto is regarded as the first Gothic novel, and brought Walpole a great amount of success. It's more of a romance than anything else, and I found the overly dramatic personalities of a few characters to be quite comedic. It was better than I expected and worth the time to read.
Aug 26, 2013 Jadranka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, my-books
Klasik gotske književnosti od koga je sve na neki način krenulo.
Možda će mlađim čitaocima, ako se odluče da ga pročitaju, "Otrantski zamak" delovati pomalo naivno, zbog čega je poželjno prethodno se upoznati sa istorijom gotske književnosti i tako spoznati nemerljivi značaj koji ovo delo ima.
"Otrantski zamak" je napisan još davne 1764.godine, a tek smo pre 2 godine dočekali da bude preveden i objavljen po prvi put na srpski jezik. Prevod je radila moja draga prijateljica Milena Dasukidis, a delo
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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
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“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.” 20 likes
“I can forgive injuries, but never benefits.” 12 likes
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