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Three Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, The Vampyre, and a Fragment of a Novel
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Three Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, The Vampyre, and a Fragment of a Novel

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  221 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
One of the most interesting phenomena in the history of literature, the Gothic novel — which flourished from about 1765 to 1825 — still has much to offer to the modern reader. Supernatural thrills, adventure and suspense, colorful settings, and, in the better examples, literary quality are all present. Unfortunately, true Gothic novels (not simply modern detective stories ...more
Paperback, 291 pages
Published June 1st 1966 by Dover Publications (first published January 1st 1966)
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Two classic Gothic Novels and a short.

THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO is regarded as the first Gothic novel and has probably been pored over by bored students everywhere in every semester that passes by on God's green earth. Much has been said about it, by much better brains than mine, so I thought I'd reserve this review to my particular reasons for reading it (and the orientalist nightmare that is VATHEK). As a long time fan of the horror/supernatural genre, but also as an avid reader with wide-ranging
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Vathek was by far the best novella out of the three.
As literature, these stories are just awful. As curiosities in the history of literature, they are interesting.
Bill Bruno
The stories in this book are perhaps more useful as examples of the beginnings of a genre than on their own merits. The three prefaces given in the introduction in this edition are particularly useful in this regard.

Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto was the ur-text of the Gothic novel and set the tone with its use of the supernatural (which would increase in later phases of the genre) and its medieval settings. The book itself is a reasonable engaging mix of the dramatic, the comic and the frig
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: gloomcookies
Shelves: phantasmagoria
Castle of Oranto & Vathek read like very long fairy tales- but I have read fairy tales that were much more interesting. The Vampire was so unrememberable that I cannot even recall it now even though I read a few days ago. Overall, an historically interesting collection if you are curious about gothic literature and early fantasy. But underwhelming in regards to all the other things you can read. They all follow a standard formula- pretty maiden, check; corrupt, power-hungry main character, c ...more
I have long sought a copy of Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto," which has oft been cited as the founding Gothic novel, so one can imagine my surprise and delight to find it reprinted in this volume, together with Beckford's "Vathek" (less well-known, I suppose) and Polidori's "The Vampyre"(!), as well as a fragment of a novel by George Gordon (Lord Byron) which bears some interesting similarities to the tale of Polidori.
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book is worth getting if just for Vathek, which is a wonderfully chilling 18th-century Oriental tale. While Walpole's work spurred the development of the Gothic genre, its clunky writing and plot are difficult to stomach. Polidori's "Vampyre" is dreadful, especially in comparison with Byron's intriguing fragment. Essential reading for anyone who wants to see the beginnings of the Gothic and modern horror genres.
May 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Weird and even weirder. Hard to give this a rating. The writing is florid, but deliberately so. The plots are over the top, yet purposefully so, I guess they are successful Gothic creations, thus proving this generation did not invent either bad taste or excess. The most interesting aspect of Frankenstein is the sensitive and articulate "monster", Vathek is just bizarre and "The Monk" makes one want to take a shower and scrub for awhile.
Feb 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Gothic fans
A very neat little collection containing the Castle of Otranto, the very first Gothic novel, Vathek, an interesting Gothic tale with a more exotic setting than most, and The Vampyre, written by John Polidori, Byron's physician whom nobody really liked, but was present at the "contest" of sorts during which Shelley wrote Frankenstein. Here, Polidori wrote the first piece of vampiric prose.
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've read this book several times. I like the fact that it's reasonably priced and that instead of including ,Frankenstein like other "three gothic novels" compilations, it includes Polidori's "The Vampire" and the Bryon fragment. The texts themselves aren't as scholarly as in other editions. However, it does have a fairly detailed introduction, and the typeface is easy to read.
Reading Wolf
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
I was assigned Walpole's tale "The Castle of Otranto" for my Gothic Tale of Terror class. I enjoyed the story although the dialogue was a little hard to follow. The story reminded me of the Knights of the Round Table stories and I couldn't help but see a glimpse of Henry VIII in there as well. This story set the mold for future Gothic tales. The giant helmet bit hooked me from the beginning.
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have long wanted to read these stories, not so much for the stories, but for what they represent as the start of gothic novels. I have long heard about the castle of otranto particularly and was not disappointed.
Jun 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Although it look me longer to read this book than many others, it was pretty interesting. The stories written in the mid 1700's to early 1800's during the peak of the true gothic novels have almost a poetry about them.
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Vampyre is excellent!
May 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Oh, transport!
Billy Ceely
Feb 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who love gothic novels
I read this for The Castle of Otranto. Has all the good makings of a gothic novel. I enjoyed it.
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
The Castle of Otranto is a classic and much worth the read. The other two novels lack but do hold their place in literary history.
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Nov 10, 2008
rated it it was ok
Oct 18, 2013
Feb 02, 2009 added it
Shelves: 9-9-9
So far I have read the Walpole. It's ridiculous. Interesting historically, but really terrible.
Karl Hickey
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Everett Franklin Bleiler (April 30, 1920 – June 13, 2010) was an editor, bibliographer, and scholar of science fiction, detective fiction, and fantasy literature. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he co-edited the first "year's best" series of science fiction anthologies, and his Checklist of Fantastic Literature has been called "the foundation of modern SF bibliography". Among his other scholarl ...more
More about E.F. Bleiler...