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The Castle of Otranto

3.18  ·  Rating Details ·  15,758 Ratings  ·  1,259 Reviews

One of the first, great Gothic novels, and one of the most influential books in literary history, this thrilling tale abounds in adventure, suspense, and supernatural occurrences. In a realm where a villain reigns, mysterious events aid in fulfilling a prophecy that spells doom for the ruler and justice for the rightful heir.

Paperback, 128 pages
Published February 1st 1963 by MacMillan Publishing Company (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
Sep 05, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2015 Fernando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
El castillo es el personaje principal de la novela y no Manfredo... Lo sobrenatural, el gótico y lo terrorífico empezó aquí, en 1764.
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
Oct 29, 2013 Hadrian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Excerpt From: Horace Walpole. “The Castle of Otranto.” iBooks:
“It was suggested by a dream from which he said he waked one morning, and of which 'all I could recover was, that I had thought myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for a head like mine, filled with Gothic story), and that on the uppermost banister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour.  In the evening I sat down and began to write, without knowing in the least what I intended to say or relate.'”

Note: This
Sep 20, 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
Sep 25, 2016 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, guardian-1000
This novel is the first Gothic horror story, written in 1764. It is a 3 swooner on the humorous Guardian newspaper gothic rating scale (shown below) with Hippolita swooning twice and Matilda once.

It also is set in a cursed or haunted castle in a foreign land with people who talk in an outdated manner (other criteria of the Guardian newspaper for classic Gothic horror stories). In fact, many of what we now consider stereotypes of Gothic horror had their origins in this book!

A quick and satisfacto
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."
Feb 12, 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
Feb 27, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sonia M
Feb 03, 2017 Sonia M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Το πρώτο έργο γοτθικού τρόμου που γράφτηκε ποτέ, περιέχει όλα τα απαραίτητα υλικά για σκοτεινή μυστηριώδη ατμόσφαιρα αλλά είναι ασυνάρτητο και γελοίο. Δεν μαθαίνουμε ποτέ πώς έπεσε η γιγάντια περικεφαλαία που σκότωσε τον πρίγκιπα του Οτράντο. Ο συγγραφέας αφήνει στη μέση πολλές σκηνές για να μας μεταφέρει σε άλλες. Στα καλά καθούμενα ξεφυτρώνουν διάφοροι που διεκδικούν το κάστρο. Στα καλά καθούμενα οι ήρωες ανακαλύπτουν χαμένους συγγενείς και μιλούν μαζί τους για σχέδια (πότε τα κατέστρωσαν;) Έν ...more
May 29, 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
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
Aug 02, 2012 Maria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
The Fizza
Jan 02, 2008 The Fizza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to The Fizza 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
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
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
Debbie Zapata
Mar 01, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gutenberg
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
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
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 17, 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 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
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
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Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford — also known as Horace Walpole — was an English art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig 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, h ...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.” 13 likes
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