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3.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,286 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews
Beckford's Gothic novel, Vathek, an Arabian tale, was originally written in French when the author was 21. It is the story of Caliph Vathek, whose eye can kill at a glance, who makes a pact with the Devil, Eblis.
Paperback, 170 pages
Published March 18th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1786)
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Jan 14, 2016 Γκέλλυ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2016, gothic
Το απόλαυσα! Ο χαλίφης Βατέκ ήταν φιλήδονος, ανυπόμονος, περίεργος, ξεμυαλισμένος, έρμαιο των παθών του και των επιθυμιών του. Παρασύρεται από τον Γκιαουρ, απο τους θησαυρούς που του τάζει και ξεκινάει για το παλάτι της Αιώνιας Φλόγας στο Ισταχάρ, αφού πρώτα θυσιάσει πενήντα όμορφα παιδιά. Σύμμαχοι του, η μητέρα του, "διεφθαρμένη όσο μπορεί να είναι μια γυναίκα" όπως λέει ο Beckford και η Νουροχιναρ, που την ερωτεύεται με πάθος, πανέμορφη και ματαιόδοξη.

Αγαπημένες σκηνές, στις όχθες του Τίγρη όπ
Aug 10, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok
Shelves: gothic
There is a story behind my purchasing this book. I occasionally bid on book lots at the local auction house. Recently I bid on a box of books which looked rather interesting. I managed to transpose the numbers and ended up with a different box of books, most of which I didn’t want. However there were seven folio society book from the late 1950s and early 1960s, which I have kept (sending the others back to auction). This was one of the folio society books.
I knew little about Vathek or William Be
Bill  Kerwin

An odd book, and not a completely successful one. I cannot deny it a wealth of ironic observation and an elegant style, but I believe the author indulges his hobbies and obsessions--his Orientalism, his ephebophilia, his loathing of his mother and other termagants--to an extent that distorts this tale of sensuality, pride and and destruction instead of informing and enriching it.

The last twenty pages or so, however, that relate Prince Vathek's damnation in the underground realm of the angel Ebl
Mar 30, 2009 Matthieu rated it liked it
Underground palaces! Concealed didacticism! Homosexual indiscretions!
Henry Avila
Caliph Vathek is the ruler in Baghdad and its large Empire, in the Middle East and Africa...Grandson of the illustrious Harun al -Rashid.Of the Arabian Nights fame(this is fiction, folks , with only a very vague resemblance to a real man, so don't bother to look him up on Wikipedia). Being the 9th century,the Caliph has absolute power.Also an evil eye, deadly when angered.As a lot of his poor victims discovered too late. Nobody looks at Vathek's fearsome eye, when the Caliph is in a very bad moo ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jan 19, 2010 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it really liked it
I seem to have embarked on a re-exploration of the gothic genre. After finishing a re-read of The Castle Of Otranto by Horace Walpole a couple of days back, Last night I finished Vathek by William Beckford, a novel which also stems from the trend for Orientalist fiction which played upon the exoticism of an imagined Arabic setting, largely inspired by translations of The Thousand And One Nights.

It's the story of the Caliph Vathek, a sensualist and seeker of knowledge whose quest for novelty lead
Feb 24, 2008 Jack rated it really liked it
Postmodernism has nothing on Vathek. An absolutely bizarre Gothic tale, rich in Orientalism and deviltry. You may think that the modern era has corned the market in strange, difficult texts, but there is truly nothing new under the sun. Vathek is stranger than strange.
Aug 07, 2007 Paul rated it really liked it
Vathek was Caliph in the area of approximately present-day Iraq, at some unknown time in the past. He was generally a fair person, but woe unto him who got Vathek angry. He lived in an immense castle, with the absolute finest of everything. One day, a very strange, and very ugly, man stood before his throne. He had a hideous laugh, but didn’t speak. He showed Vathek all manner of rare and exotic items, including sabers inscribed in an unknown language, inscriptions which kept changing from day t ...more
What a bizarre book. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it, but I didn't hate it. The title character is a generically Arabian sultan who enters into a deal with a djinn that ends as well as one might expect. Which is to say, not at all. Vathek's descent is told in loosely connected episodes, with some very surreal scenes included. Incredibly odd plot aside, it's actually written fairly well. Miles better than The Castle of Otranto, at least. It's delightfully over the top, of course, but no ...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 21, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Aaron Vincent, whose YA taste I respect most
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books and 1001 Books You Must Read Before You DIe (2006 to 2010 editions)
Shelves: classics, 1001-core, 501
Surprisingly quite an interesting read! The plot is thick, interesting characters and definitely written by somebody with a very rich imagination! Wiki says that Mr. Beckford, at the young age of 21, wrote this straight 3 days and 2 nights in French in 1782. Now, after 228 years and the story is still interesting and can put to shame the contemporary fantasy gothic novels we have.

The character of Caliph Vathek, still from Wiki, is inspired by the life of Al-Wathiq ibn Mutasim (Arabic الواثق), an
Oct 12, 2008 Kam rated it did not like it
So plodding, this book. It was painful to read. Even in Starbucks with wonderful smells of cinnamon and chocolate wafting around. Page by page, I trudged on.
Some great imagery, but at great expense!
Jan 07, 2016 Sinem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
çok bildik hikaye (insanın şeytana uyması diyelim) ve sade anlatım.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.


William Beckford, the author of the following celebrated Eastern tale, was born in 1760, and died in the spring of 1844, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. It is to be regretted, that a man of so remarkable a character, did not leave the world some record of a life offering points of interest different from that of any of his contemporaries, from the peculiarly studious retirement and eccentric avocations in which it was
John David
Sep 22, 2013 John David rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
William Beckford, the author of “Vathek,” led a rather remarkable life – so remarkable, in fact, that reviewers and critics are left baffled at how to interpret it other than reading it as a sort of fantastic confabulation of his life. He was born in 1760, son of the two-time Lord Mayor of London; at the tender age of ten years, his father died and left him one of the richest men in the entire country. This allowed him to pursue his interests in art, architecture, and travel, all of which he did ...more
Tim Pendry
The 1970 (revised 1983) Oxford World Classics Editions of Beckford's 'Vathek' of 1782 is almost exhaustingly as well as exhaustively scholarly with not only the final 1816 text as the basis of the book but a full range of notes from the original.

The work is quite slight in many ways but it has to be granted its originality as a quasi-Gothic piece of orientalism and as a major influence on subsequent fantastic literature.

Beckford himself had the potential to be great but he was not only born far
Jan 03, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up expecting to blow through it in a few days and soon found myself lost in its dense passages. The story is fairly straightforward--the titular Caliph wants to indulge in every pleasure available on this world--yet the path it takes to its end is serpentine and bizarre. The supernatural arrives and leaves with barely any introduction; major events take place in a sentence or two; historical anecdotes abound, buttressed by footnotes that one can turn to in the back of the book (as ...more
Nickolas the Kid
Dec 28, 2015 Nickolas the Kid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, gothic
Οι χίλιες και μια νύχτες σε συνδυασμό με τον Φαούστ. Αρκετά παράξενο βιβλίο...

Ολόκληρη κριτική στην Λέσχη του Βιβλίου
Jenny Macdonald
Mar 22, 2015 Jenny Macdonald rated it liked it
A cross between a gothic Pilgrim's Progress in reverse and The Thousand and one Nights it tells the tale of a Caliph, Vathek, and his mother, Carathis, who are cruel and ruthless in their search for knowledge and supernatural powers. A visiting merchant, a Giaour, attends Vathek and promises him all knowledge and power if he works for the Devil, Eblis. Of course to do this involves abandoning their faith Islam, living a debauched life and murdering a large quantity of innocent people. Vathek doe ...more
The Caliph, Vathek, and his mother, Carathis, are cruel and ruthless in their search for knowledge and supernatural powers. Listening to Giaour, who claims to be an Indian merchant and has earned Vathek's attention, they abandon their faith, Islam, to live in sin and murder innocent people to sacrifice to Giaour - who work for the Devil, Eblis, and whose name means blasphemer - to be able to achieve these powers. Of course, it's not that easy.

Written in 1786, by the English author William Beckfo
Mar 27, 2014 Lada rated it it was amazing
A Gothic novel about a Caliph from Bagdad and his love of extravagance, his luxuriousness,lavishness in enjoyment, which was larger than life, transgressing the borders of the human. A macabre romance, which goes literally to the bottom of oneself, to the horror of self-knowledge. The novel challenges everything,i.e. each human tacit valour to go beyond to the strange, mysterious and supernatural. For instance, the mother-son relation is strained , placed on a different level of intercommunicati ...more
May 31, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Think Doctor Faustus but with more action and ultimately more interesting.

EDIT: Okay admittedly its been over two years since I read this book, but I want to elaborate a bit on why I like 'Vathek'.

Let me say first off this book is extraordinarily racist, which is to be expected from a book about the Middle East as written by a white British man in the 18th century. It's also pretty sexist, but sexist in a way that is like "well that is how these FOREIGN people treat their ladies", so you know i
Jan 31, 2011 Jennefer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, gothic
A fun old Gothic with a tale of the Arabian nights sort of feel. We have a power and knowledge hungry leader with a weakness for food and women, and his even more ambitious astrology reading mother (sort of McBeth-ish, only mother not wife). Then there is the Giaour with a thirst for young pretty young boys (as food, not for sex), a huge tower of babel sort of thing with a floor dedicated to each of the senses, little dwarfs that pinch to death, a young couple in love (cousins) who are tricked i ...more
Oct 25, 2015 Ümit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Hemen hemen aynı anda, aynı ses, halife, Nurunihar, dört prens ve prensese de geri dönülmez yasayı bildirmişti. Yürekleri ateş aldı; ve işte o anda, Tanrının bağışlarının en değerli olanını, umudu yitirdiler!"

Salt bir şeyin hükümdarı olmak uğruna, en kötü şeyin hükümdarı olup mutsuzluk ve umutsuzluk içinde yüzmek, evlâ mıdır? Beştepe'deki 'uzun'a sorun bakalım.
Ebster Davis
Jun 16, 2015 Ebster Davis rated it liked it
This book reminded me a lot of a thousand arabian nights; hard to follow at times, with lots of really vivid/psychedelic descriptions...but it's a lot shorter and less explicit.

The main character is pretty worldly king, and he can kill people by looking at them (but only if he's extremely angry). His mom is a necromancer of sorts and they do horrible thing after horrible thing so that he can divine his future/grand destiny or something like that.

I liked how the book represented Djinn. My favor
Jan 16, 2009 Tyler rated it it was ok
Vathek is a very strange Gothic, Oriental fantasy about a surfeitous Caliph that gets duped into thinking his journey to inherit the treasures of the Subterranean Palace of Fire (or something like that)—what we would call "Hell"—will result in great power and eternal happiness. It's well-written and very ornate (very Rococo), but the characters are pretty shallow, really, although the Caliph’s mother, a Saracen queen of sorts, does have a bit more depth than the rest of the cast, in a creepy sor ...more
Fairytale from the Middle East

Vathek is a Caliph who didn't learn to rule his kingdom well, or how to behave correctly. He is primarily concerned with indulging his five senses. He is a sybarite. Extravagance being his native way, he builds five palaces onto the existing palace - one to over indulge each of his five senses to the point of satisfaction. Only Vathek is never really satisfied by anything. He always wants more power, a lovelier girl, more exotic food, a more sophisticated fragrance
Jan 11, 2015 sabisteb rated it liked it
Kalif Vathek lebt unter der Fuchtel seiner Mutter Carathis. Carathis ist nicht nur Griechin, nein, sie ist auch Schwarzmagierin. Wahrscheinlich ihr zuliebe baut Vathek einen riesigen Turm von dem aus die Bewohner seiner Stadt wie Ameisen aussehen (wie er da hoch kommt ohne Aufzug sei mal dahingestellt). Im UG dieses Turms lagert seine Mutter ihre Okkulten Gegenstände, wie Mumien, Gifte und dergleichen.
Eines Tages kommt ein Kaufmann in die Stadt, der ganz seltsame, phantastische, magische Waffen
Jun 22, 2013 Fil rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, gothic, ebook
Une histoire peu intéressante avec une morale bien ordinaire et peuplée de personnages unidimensionels. Difficile à lire par moments, les événement me semblais un peu trop pêle mêle et sans but. Vathek (le personnage et le roman) m'a déçu, c'est tout.

Un jour je m'y essayerais en Anglais, peut-être que...
Mairéad (is exploring a floating city)
1.5 stars.

This was a terrible mess. I'm not sure whether I'm at fault or it's Beckford's way of writing this or not, but this one most certainly frustrated me greatly. Drowning my in hug paragraphs where at times more than one person would speak mixed with lots having at once. There's no chapters (which might have helped the pacing a bit, but alas). I just grew more and more irritated as I read onwards. Only understand bits and pieces here and there and the occasional paragraph.

I'm aware that Be
'Se anunciaba la oración de la aurora cuando Carathis y Vathek ascendieron los innumerables escalones que llevaban a la cima de la torre, donde permanecieron algún tiempo aunque la mañana se presentaba triste y lluviosa. Aquel sombrío resplandor agradaba a sus malvados corazones'.

Cielos teñidos de rojo sangre, maldad y extrañeza, un cuadro tenebroso coloreado con motivos orientales. Vathek es una fantasía macabra publicada como un 'cuento árabe' e inspirada en 'Las mil y una noches', tan exitoso
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