Shovelmonkey1's Reviews > The Castle of Otranto

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
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Oct 31, 11

bookshelves: 1001-books, bookcrossing-books, epic-snooze-fest, read-in-2010
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list - bastards!
Recommended for: people who like falling millinery
read count: 1

WARNING: 1001 BOOK THAT THE WRITERS OF THE 1001 BOOKS LIST WANTED TO TORTURE YOU WITH BEFORE YOU DIE

(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 read all the books on the 1001 books to read before you die list. Like a premature New Years resolution for self betterment, but instead of chucking in the booze or fags (that's cigarettes to you folks in the US of A), you decide to acquire an expensive habit rather than giving one up. Many books later and you decide to pseudo-cheat your way to a higher number of 1001 books by picking the shortest books off the list and think yourself clever for doing so.... uh huh.... not so much as it turns out because as with Don DeLillos The Body Artist and The Castle of Otranto, that kind of tactical stratagem of 1001 book cherry picking will come back to bite you on the arse good style.

To say that this book can be difficult to read in places is probably a moderate understatement. My Ye Olde Lingo ear/eye is totally out having abandoned this kind of book after A-Level English Lit was mercifully behind me, so it was like being plunged back into curriculum reading again but without the benefits of a young unscrambled mind to back it up.

First off, weird things happen. Big helmets fall on people. Why? Absolutely no idea. Novel way to kill off someone though I must admit... falling millinery is not an obvious weapon of choice. The rest of the book is more serious. Was the helmet not comedy? Oh.

Mostly I enjoyed the fact that the female characters were very much at the centre of the plot which must have been unusual for the period in which the book was written, although admittedly, it is more the state of their emotions, particularly towards their men-folk which puts them at the heart of this rather than their own characters and motivations. Their lives are dictated by the men around them (most of whom some to be self serving, self aggrandising and unfaithful!).

Manfred gets extra evil baddie points for trying to trade in his wife for a younger model with the rather rubbish excuse that he's only doing it with the country's best interests at heart! Mostly I felt that I'd have enjoyed this more if someone would write this as a screen play and present it in the style of a Carry-On film. I don't know why but it just had that sort of feel to it.

Overall a fairly slog-worthy read. You might find yourself hoping to get squashed by a giant helmet just to put you out of your misery.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by mark (new)

mark monday i do remember this to be torture to read! that was back in my college days, when i was much more ambitious.


Mark Brilliant review and it made me laugh that you were at pains to explain the unique meaning of fags lest you might have ended up revealing more than you intended or indeed knew. I love that about our ' common ' language. Us brits often mean something quite different by words and it causes great hilarity on both sides of the water


Shovelmonkey1 Considering people are supposed to learn more if learning is fun you'd think schools and colleges would steer away from bone-dry classics like this.


Shovelmonkey1 Mark wrote: "Brilliant review and it made me laugh that you were at pains to explain the unique meaning of fags lest you might have ended up revealing more than you intended or indeed knew. I love that about ou..."

Thanks! Ah yes transatlantic language barriers. One of my Canadian friends is engaged to a guy from northern ireland. I swear that sometimes they have no idea what the other is going on about... their kids are going to be so confused! I used to teach for an American University in the middle east and they thought I was incredibly British.


Mark Having said that the multiplicity of accents in UK can be fun too. When I was at College in Brum in the 80's I remember sitting in the pub with a mate from Plymouth, where i am from originally, and his accent being quite strong he would speak, then a mancunian would ' translate ' for a brummie who would then respond via mancunian translator. Classic. made the flowing of conversations until they attuned to the accents a tad stilted


Shovelmonkey1 Ain't diversity brilliant! ;)


K.D. Absolutely Funny regarding the torture.

I guess this one started the gothic genre and that is the reason why this is included in the 1001.


Shovelmonkey1 K.D. wrote: "Funny regarding the torture.

I guess this one started the gothic genre and that is the reason why this is included in the 1001."


As ever, you are correct K.D. I just wish it had been a little more Turn of the Screw meets A picture of Dorian Gray. They were so much more readable. Still it's another one ticked off the list!


K.D. Absolutely Oh yes, I liked Dorian. Wilde was born a lot latter than Walpole though.


message 10: by Richard (new)

Richard Shovelmonkey1 wrote: "First off, weird things happen. Big helmets fall on people. Why? Absolutely no idea. Novel way to kill off someone though I must admit... falling millinery is not an obvious weapon of choice. The rest of the book is more serious. Was the helmet not comedy? Oh."

Kinda reminds me of a Roadrunner cartoon.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz65AO...


Manda love your review made me laugh. I've just read it in a couple of days and love the story - can see its easy to miss the plot just by skim reading one line too quickly. Its a tad like a primary school school essay - great story though - pure fantasy but good fun.


Philip So you liked it, yet you found it boring as hell. Interesting.


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