Read The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole E.F. Bleiler Walter Scott Online


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....

Title : The Castle of Otranto
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780486434124
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 106 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Castle of Otranto Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-02-19 22:43

    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--are still powerful today. Things bog down in the middle, slowed by sentimental dialogue and overcomplicated plot points, but the owner of the helmet himself appears at the end (a deus ex maximus?) in a climax worthy of Dali and Bunuel. Manfred's dynasty crumbles, and so do the walls of Otranto, in an ending that would influence Poe's "Usher" some seventy years later.

  • Stephen
    2019-03-05 19:24

    “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 should be noted that the book was written in 1764 and is widely considered to be the first ever Gothic novel. This highlights two things. First, that there was at least one really, really crappy book published in the 18th century. Second, as the first gothic novel, it has the additional distinction of being the first gothic novel to really, really suck. The book centers around Manfred, who is the lord of a Castle Otranto. As the story begins, Manfred’s day gets off to a really bad start when his sickly son gets crushed by a massive helmet that falls on him inexplicably from above. You might be wondering where the giant helmet came from and how it happened to fall. Well reading the book won't help.......BECAUSE IT IS NEVER EXPLAINED. It just sort of happens... which just sort of sucks. So anyway, the son’s death leads Manfred to believe that an ancient prophecy is coming to pass which states that his ownership of the castle will cease “should the owner be grown too large to inhabit it.” [Begin confused look].... I have no idea what that means.Well Manfred decides that he can best avoid the prophecy by divorcing his first wife and marrying his dead son’s fiancé so that she can give him a proper heir. How does having another son fit in with stopping the prophecy? Can't tell you...don't and and the baby above are still confused. Manfred tells his first wife the plan and she basically accepts being pushed aside for a younger woman without a peep. Basically, Mr. Walpole thought that portraying the first wife as an extreme doormat was just what the story needed. Well done, Horace. Way to write those strong female characters. After that the rest of the book is mostly “I want to marry her, but she doesn’t want to marry me because she wants to marry him, who wants to marry someone else….and Manfred is a real prick.” That sums it up except that some more boring shit happens that really sucks and there is some chasing, some hiding, a couple of deaths and some mysterious yet incredibly boring knights from a neighboring kingdom. In sum, Castle of Otranto.......

  • Bookdragon Sean
    2019-02-23 03:41

    By today’s standard’s The Castle of Otranto is a ridiculous piece of melodrama. However, when it was originally published it was absolute dynamite.It had the power to shock and dazzle its earliest of readers. They were innocent and unused to horror; thus, it was utterly compelling for them. Such a thing is comparable to early cinema. Audiences were thrilled by silent movie car chases and actions scenes. If we watch them today they are unexciting and laughable. Truly great literature is timeless. Frankenstein will never stop being brilliant nor will Dracula or Jane Eyre. Unfortunately, The Castle of Otranto is far from great literature. It is too stuck in its era to be considered effective and, structurally speaking, it is dreadful.There is no set up or beginning per say, but, again, Walpole is not entirely at fault because the novel was still very, very, new at this point. Austen had not yet come along to give it structure and meaning. On the first page of this we are introduced to the characters, their lineages and personalities. On page two one is crushed by an ethereal floating helmet of sorts. It’s like Walpole doesn’t quite know how to pace. Instead he has ideas, idea he cannot wait to blurt out at the first opportunity without first creating any sense of character. Although I found myself cringing at the plot, laughing at the overdone horror moments and yawning at the resolution, it would be remiss of me to ignore the book’s place in the cannon of horror literature. It was the first ever horror novel, effectively, it is a piece of writing that inspired other more talented writers to go on and produce better works. They took Walpole's themes and ideas and perfected them. For those interested in tracking the development of the horror genre this is certainly and interesting to read. The best way to approach this is as an academic curiosity, a piece of writing that carries a lot of history and significance, but, ultimately, it isn’t that great to begin with.

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-03-16 01:32

    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.

  • Milena March
    2019-03-08 23:50

    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 Saved Otranto!Phew. Sorry. With a novel like Otranto it's hard not to inject a little sarcasm into the reviewing of the book. In honour of Horace Walpole - father of Gothic fiction - I'm going to write this review with as many dashes - and breaks - as I possibly can. It's not difficult to see why Otranto is still an important book today. As a novel it marks the beginning of a new form of popular fiction - the Gothic - which would never quite die down. Its ancestors are alive and well today - Just look at the shelves of any YA section in any bookstore in the world.So. It's an important book. It's pretty famous, too. Added to that, it's short, at a measly 100-or-so pages. It's a quick read, even if a little challenging. Primarily, it's challenging because of the way it's written - kind of like this - with speech - bless old Horace Walpole - not even graced with a new line each time it presents itself. This leads to the disturbing technical difficulty of the text blending into one huge hunk. You really have to concentrate on your reading - or you find yourself drifting off. Everything happens rather quickly, so you might find that by the time you tune in, five different things have happened and you've completely lost the thread of the plot.And what is the plot? Well, it's fairly simple. The son of Manfred, lord of Otranto, is killed on his wedding day to Isabella, by the aforementioned magical flying helmet. Manfred, who now needs a male heir, decides - oh, that most blackhearted of villains! - that he's going to divorce his wife Hippolita and marry Isabella. As a Gothic villain I would have expected him to try and kill Hippolita, so I guess Manfred gets points for good behaviour. And there's romance; a love triangle, between Theodore, Matilda - daughter of Manfred - and Isabella. Theodore, the dashing young hero, speaks surprisingly well for a man who was a slave on a pirate ship for most of his youth. But that's pirates for you.Because the book is so short, there's very little time to develop the characters. Walpole seems to sit on the fence about Manfred in particular. The women characters are simple and boring, as in most Gothic fiction - they exist simply as victims. Take Hippolita - "It is not ours to make election for ourselves; heaven, our fathers, and our husbands, must decide for us." (Otranto, Chapter IV) But Manfred could potentially be seen as a bit more complex. One moment he's hurrying around trying to divorce his wife - "I desired you once before, said Manfred angrily, not to name that woman; from this hour she must be a stranger to you, as she must be to me ... too long has she cursed me by her unfruitfulness..." (Otranto, Chapter I) - but Walpole rushes to assure us that he's not all bad - he has a tender heart, we're told, which is not unsusceptible to goodness. Then he goes around trying to stab his would-be daughter-in-law (because, of course, the way to solve any problem is to stab the pretty woman. That'll make everything better) and ends up killing his daughter. "Manfred, whose spirits were inflamed, and whom Isabella had driven from her on his urging his passion with too little reserve ... Provoked ... and enraged at her father [Frederic], he hastened secretly to the great church ... the tyrant, drawing his dagger ... plung[ed] it over her shoulder ... -Ah me, I am slain! cried Matilda sinking ... -Stop ... cried Matilda; it is my father! Manfred, waking as from a trance, beat his breast ... and endeavoured to recover his dagger from Theodore to dispatch himself....Matilda, resigning herself to her fate ... she begged the assistants to comfort her father. I took thee for Isabella [cried Manfred]; but heaven directed my bloody hand to the heart of my child!"(Otranto, Chapter V)Oh, no. How embarrassing. Looks quite exciting, doesn't it? I must admit that bit was, though I wanted to slap Matilda for being a wet blanket. Then Manfred rushes to assure us, himself, that he's not really a bad guy; "My ancestor was really the evil one!" he cries, conveniently pinning the blame on a guy who can't refute his arguments on account of being dead:"I would draw a veil over my ancestor's crimes-but it is in vain: Alfonso died by poison ... I pay the price of usurpation for all!"(Otranto, Chapter V)Oh. Poor Manfred. But don't worry! Be jolly! Both his kids are dead, but that's OK, because he goes into a monastery with his wife and lives happily ever after. After a surprise appearance from a cloaked skeleton - the one bit in the book where I sat up and said, 'This is going to get good!' - Frederic is told - "Remember the wood of Joppa!" Ah, Joppa. I remember it well. Stopped by this apparition from doing something hasty - like trying to marry the gorgeous Matilda, for instance, that sinful dog! - it leaves, never to grace us with its presence again. We never really do find out what happened in Joppa. But religious conversion brightens that oh-so-jolly ending. Order and balance are restored! Tyrants are reformed! Lovers united! (Except for Matilda, poor dear, on account of having been stabbed in the heart by Daddy)All jokes aside, though, Otranto is an interesting read. It's easy to see why Walpole enjoyed writing it so much. Like many Gothic texts (think Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) it originated in a dream. "The work grew on my hands," Walpole said, "and I grew fond of it ... I was so engrossed with my tale ... I completed [it] in less than two months..." (Letter to the Rev. William Cole) In 'blending two types of romance: the old and the new' Walpole pioneered a popular genre which has as yet refused to die down. It really is a landmark in popular literature, and a triumph for the Gothic elements of storytelling over the seriousness of Enlightenment writers. Three cheers for our boy Horace!

  • Ben Debus
    2019-02-19 21:41

    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 structure: nearly half of the "action" occurs in dialogue, much of which is Walpole's apparent attempts to capture the extreme reluctance of one nobleman, through speech, to trouble another nobleman, even if lives hang in the balance. A common interchange might run thusly:Diego (a manservant): Oh, it was awful!Manfred (lord of Otranto): What sawest thou?!Diego: I didn't see anything!Manfred: What?Diego: Jaquez saw it.Manfred: Where is he?Jaquez (another manservant): Right here, my lord!Manfred: What did you see?Jaquez: It was horrible!Manfred: What was it?Jaquez: It was incredible!Manfred: What was incredible?!Jaquez: What I saw!Manfred: Tell me what it was!Jaquez: I can't! Holy crap!Diego: I can tell you!Manfred: But, I thought you didn't see it.Diego: I didn't, my lord.Manfred: Then how can you tell me what it is?Diego: I heard it! Oh, awful!Manfred: What did you hear, then?!Diego: It was really, really loud!And so on. The plot itself is ridiculous, full of stock characters, ridiculous reversals of fortune, and supernatural curses. But, I found I couldn't put it away - I put it down, absolutely, and frequently - but I couldn't quite put it away.Manfred, the count of Castle Otranto, has arranged a marriange between his son, Conrad, and Isabella, a "virtuous virgin"-type from the next principality. The marriage has been hastily arranged at Manfred's behest, and nobody is sure why. But here, around the bottom of page 1, is where we get conflict: Conrad becomes crushed beneath a giant metal helmet that seems to have fallen from the sky. The man Manfred believes is the criminal (or necromancer, if you prefer), is imprisoned beneath the helmet. Then, Manfred tries to seduce the fair Isabella, in order to produce a new male heir. But wait! Didn't I mention that Manfred is married already, to the fair and virtuous Hippolita? What's to be done?That brings you up to about page three. What unfolds from there is ridiculous, the kind of story a man hopped up on crack might shout to passersby from beneath a bridge. But it is, well, interesting, and though poorly written, and full of tropes, pretty inventive at the same time. It won't change your life, but if your tired of books changing your life, this might be a nice pick for a rainy day.

  • Paul
    2019-02-25 20:52

    2.5 stars rounded upShovel 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 spot of ghostliness. He uses the Shakespearean idea of making the ghost the teller of truth. So it’s really a case of nice ideas, shame about the plot. The plot revolves around Manfred, Lord of the Castle of Otranto, his long suffering wife Hippolita, his son and heir Conrad (killed in the first chapter by an oversized helmet; the reason for the whole dreary tale), Conrad’s intended Isabella who becomes the object of Manfred’s lascivious intentions once he realises he is heirless, Matilda the daughter of Manfred; Theodore, a mysterious peasant who keeps popping up at opportune moments and who isn’t all he seems (Oh really!!), Father Jerome, a cleric who is also not all he seems, Bianca the comic relief servant (I think Walpole had read too much Shakespeare!) and finally Frederic, a mysterious knight who turns up to reveal a secret. As you may have sensed it didn’t really engage me, apart from the fact that it is an interesting period piece. The plot works its way through and some loose ends are tied up; with the odd untimely death and the realisation that as always the rich can get away with murder!It is groundbreaking, but later attempts at gothic are much better (Mary Shelley for one).

  • Fernando
    2019-02-21 01:25

    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
    2019-03-14 02:28

    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, a noblewoman and the daughter of Jerome, fighting in the Holy Land, and is a rival to Manfred's claim on the estate of Otranto(in fact has a better one).Rumors that Jerome has been killed, gladdens the usurper's heart. Isabella has been kidnapped and being forced to marry Conrad. This is the first Gothic novel,1764, and naturally very strange events occur.A giant helmet,out of nowhere, crushes poor Conrad to death.It apparently came out of the sky...A youth tell's the Prince that it resembles the helmet, of the statue from the nearby church.Which it is. The distraught father suspects witchcraft and immediately arrest Theodore, the young man, his life is in danger of being cut short, in more ways than one....Other apparitions are seen by servants in the castle, some too strange to be believed .Manfred comes up with an idea to divorce his wife and marry Isabella! But then a portrait of Manfred's grandfather floats from the wall, settling on the floor...Frightening the Prince.Isabella takes this opportunity to flee.Going down the underground vault of the castle,in the creepy darkness , with a lamp,alone,through the unknown passageway, she is very scared,who wouldn't be?Hearing weird noises,is Manfred chasing her ?Then the lamp's candle goes out.What will Isabella do?

  • Hadrian
    2019-03-22 19:34

    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.

  • Bam
    2019-02-21 23:26

    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 book is available for free download from the Project Gutenberg and easily read in one day. First published in 1765, this gothic story takes place in Italy during the era of the Crusades (1095-1243.) Manfred, Prince of Otranto, is determined to make sure his lineage is carried on and arranges for his only son, the sickly Conrad, to marry lovely Isabella, the daughter of the Marquis of Vicenza. On the day of the wedding, Conrad is killed in a horrible and mysterious accident and Manfred decides he will divorce his wife and marry Isabella himself to beget more sons. The bride-to-be is unwilling and escapes to the church for sanctuary. Meanwhile there are lots of other creepy sights and sounds in the ancient castle which seem to be the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy.This old chestnut is great fun to read--gothic atmosphere, romance, comedy, murder and mayhem. It all reminded me a bit of a great Shakespeare play.#2016-aty-reading-challenge-week-43: A book about a thing that goes bump in the night!#book-vipers-book-hunter: CASTLE

  • Jonfaith
    2019-02-19 21:38

    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 laughable twist in the Bard or even Nabokov: the car which killed Charlotte Haze dented our credulity, didn't it? I say onward with the GIANT HELMET! What lurks beneath is but prophesy and paternity. Walpole's book offers little in terms of fear. The pacing and revelation are no more haunting than a production of Hamlet. The notion of it being a "found" medieval text gives it sufficient distance to unnerve our sense of legacy.

  • Sotiris Karaiskos
    2019-03-02 02:32

    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.

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-03-05 21:47

    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."

  • Leslie
    2019-03-03 03:41

    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 satisfactorily spooky book - I wish I had saved it for Halloween!

  • Candi
    2019-03-15 21:37

    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. Many times I found myself snickering at some of the outlandish events and the dialogue itself. “At that instant the portrait of his grandfather, which hung over the bench where they had been sitting, uttered a deep sigh, and heaved its breast.” Creepy, but yet I can’t help but wonder if Horace Walpole would have been pleased to know that scenes like this were also a bit amusing (to this reader at least)! In some ways this novel reminded me of a Shakespearean drama; I am not certain if this was deliberate or not, but now having read some of the reviews, I see that I am not alone in this notion. Parts of this work were predictable, while other events were both surprising and suspenseful. I was not prepared for the ending! If you are interested in the gothic genre and in learning more about the influence this work had on later gothic novels as well as contemporary horror novels, then you should take a look at The Castle of Otranto.

  • Abraham
    2019-02-22 21:27

    This was great!

  • Peter
    2019-02-21 01:42

    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 life. Henry Seymour Conway, Walpole’s nephew, had recently been exiled because of political actions, and the exile shook up his uncle. It was in this atmosphere that Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto, in which a tyrant is unseated by a man he wrongly accuses. Correlations between life and the novel only begin there, and after some research, Walpole’s several introductions begin to read like frantic attempts to obscure what lies at the novel’s core.Does this change the reading? Not much. Most notably, the tale is a thriller. It’s a fun romp that opened the door for today’s suspense and fantasy writers.Do I recommend it? Yes. Fun, historically significant, and lots to mull over.Would I teach it? Maybe. It has historical value, and Walpole also injected elements from Shakespearean drama. There’s some stuff in there to talk about.Lasting Impression: It’s a mystery from the middle ages full of magic and wonder. And the personal significance to Walpole casts it in a darker light.

  • ☙ percy ❧
    2019-02-20 21:25

    reviewers: this is melodramatic gothic trashme:

  • Aoife
    2019-03-18 23:49

    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 wow! It certainly is one. Half a page in the only son and heir of Manfred, the highly unlikeable the lord of the castle has already kicked the bucket (only minutes before the wedding) after a piece of a statue (that apparently appeared out of nowhere) fell on him. Half a page later Manfred has already condemned an unsuspecting bystander to death who just remarked on the similarities between the piece and a statue in the castle and then tries to persuade Isabelle, his son's not-quite-widow to marry him (she refuses among other reasons because Manfred's wife is still alive). It continues in that speed and so the 100 pages are crammed with everything. Mistaken identities, birth-marks that reveal a person's true heritage, curses and enough murder, manipulation and bloodshed to keep up with many contemporary thrillers.As a result it reads more like a parody that crams all kinds of Gothic tropes together than something that (at least to an extend) wanted to be taken seriously but it is definitely an enjoyable read and because of the shortness and the fact that it was the first Gothic novel not a bad place to start if you're also curious about Gothic fiction.This review also appears on Witty Little Knitter

  • Evi *
    2019-03-07 19:41

    Leggere oggi Il Castello di Otranto, definito il capostipite della letteratura gotica…, fa quasi sorridere perché la nostra sensibilità di accogliere il terrificante si è notevolmente addomesticata, però bisognerebbe leggerlo con gli occhi e la testa di un lettore del ‘700 perchè nel ‘700 fu scritto e a quell’epoca fu una narrazione di rottura, di novità ed è strano pensare come, nel secolo dei lumi che giungevano a rischiarare le superstizioni e le false credenze, si sentisse l’esigenza di voltarsi al passato per scrivere una storia di incredulità, di prodigi, di fantasmi, di avi che prendono vita staccandosi dal dipinto che per secoli li ha tenuti imprigionati, di elmi e spade giganti.E’ un gotico molto poco tenebroso, molto soft direi, per ammissione dello stesso autore sono mescolati due registri il pauroso e il comico che si alternano in uno stile veloce che scandisce gli eventi.Vero è che siamo abissalmente lontani dalle tinte cupe di un Master di Ballantrae o dalla sepolcralità delle cripte di un qualsiasi castello di Dracula, con Manfredi il Principe del Castello di Otranto, con la sua servitù, impicciona e maldestra più che rabbrividire si sorride.

  • Mark
    2019-03-16 20:46

    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 granddady of all Gothic fiction. Ancient catacombs? Check. Spectral spectres? Check. A power mad "prince" who is not what he seems? Check. In a mere hundred pages, this short novel has it all. All the tropes that would be and are still being mined in the horror and romance genres. What I didn't expect was how quickly the plot moved. While the language was sometimes hard to penetrate, once penetrated I found the story moved very quick. All the action takes place, by my estimation, within a day or two. (I could be wrong on this. Lots of starting-stopping in my reading this week.) The only book thing I've read that moved this quickly was an old pulp novel by Norvell Page, who was known for his breakneck pacing. I also didn't expect to be engaged with the characters in so short a space. All of the characters came to life, and all were differentiated enough the character tags were unnecessary. The mood, all important to a Gothic story, was there in spades. Besides the melodrama, I was anxious to feel the titular castle in all its menace. I was looking forward to this aspect in Wuthering Heights, but it left me wanting. But Otranto did not disappoint. Portions of the plot reminded me of something out of Shakespeare. Some of the developments could be predicted, but some - and this could be because I'm terrible at guessing what will happen next - came as complete surprises. Many aspects of the plot worked together like a puzzle, all the pieces fitting nicely, but it did not feel as though Walpole contrived things to happen this way. It just felt like crazy life doing what it does best: throwing monkey wrench after monkey wrench. Oh, and if I'm not mistaken, Poe must've borrowed certain things from this to create his most famous work, "The Fall of the House of Usher." I've done no investigations yet, but certain points were very familiar. It's been at least ten years since I read last read it, but I'm sure Lovecraft's essay Supernatural Horror in Literature has some interesting things to say about this. When I first read it, I thought it would be interesting to check out some of his recommendations. Finally, finally, I'm on the road. Granddaddy of them all, you were worth the effort.

  • A.
    2019-03-10 19:34

    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 themselves as sort-of non-fiction, were using plots and dialogue that would be rejected by writers of "Perfect Strangers" fanfic (god forbid such a thing exists). Naturally, I adore it.It starts out with a prince getting crushed by a giant helmet that fell from the sky (really), leading his father to pursue his betrothed, arguing to a priest whether it would be okay to divorce his wife to marry this girl 2/5th of his age who looks almost exactly like his daughter. Then dismembered giant limbs show up around the castle, a woman and a man declare their love for each other for 20 minutes on a castle parapet during a storm while the hero's in some battle. There's some crappy poetry thrown in to break things up, and occult. OCCULT! LUSTING!Hells of funny.

  • Alex
    2019-02-22 21:33

    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 average. Lots of plot twists, in that old-timey "everyone's related!" way. Competently written. It's not boring, but it is fairly goofy. At 125 pages, it's more of a novella, so you might as well read it.

  • J.G. Keely
    2019-03-13 20:36

    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 better writers to improve upon it.

  • Maria
    2019-03-15 19:45

    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 like this anymore. Spineless and blindly following orders of the men around them. Theodore was the only one who stood up to anyone, then again he was a man not a woman. The writing style. God the writing style. It was just so hard to follow what was happening and who was speaking. This was made even harder by the fact that I kept loosing concentration and having to re-read parts because I just wanted the damn book to end!Hopefully some of the other books on the course will be better because I was really looking forward to Gothic Fictions this year.

  • Berfin Kanat
    2019-02-22 00:42

    Otranto Şatosu yazılan ilk gotik eser olarak kabul ediliyor. Kitabın kurgusunda kullanılan ögeler geleneği devam ettiren yazarlara örnek olmuş. Fakat kitap gotik özelliği açısından günümüz okurunu tatmin etmiyor. Okurken gereksiz bir karmaşanın içinde gibi hissediyorsunuz. Türe başlamak isteyenlerin farklı eserlere bakmasını tavsiye ederim, çok isterseniz Otranto Şatosu'nu daha sonra araya sıkıştırırsınız.

  • The Fizza
    2019-02-20 03:51

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!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 Naples in 1529 and recently rediscovered in the library of 'an ancient Catholic family in the north of England.' This turned out to be a elaborate lie woven by the books true author, Horace Walpole (The 4th Earl of Orford). The story itself concerns a curse on the house Manfred, Prince of Otranto. Who is trying to solidify his rule by the marriage of his son to the beautiful Isabella daughter of the Marquis of Vicenza. Manfred's plans, of course, go awry amidst speculation about an 'ancient prophecy' claiming "That the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it." These claims are surrounded by a series of supernatural events involving many over-sized limbs, ghosts, mysterious blood, and of course murder.The book is a short, good read and very entertaining. Though I should mention it was written in 1764 and if you haven't read any period lit you might not be able to plow though it as fast as some, since many of the writing rules we've been weaned on were not yet in existence.But if you have read period lit, or think you can understand a book full of run-on sentences, missing paragraph breaks and no quotation marks, then please try this book out. If anything you'll get quite a look at the 18th century mind and they're view of 16th century life as well as a fantastic tale.

  • Yngvild
    2019-03-09 19:34

    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 plain, but elegant, vernacular. Literary authors, for reasons I do not fully understand, tend to write in a language that is archaic for their day. When it is badly done, as it is in most popular "historical" novels of today, there is nothing worse. Walpole, except where he is being deliberately overblown, sticks to what I would guess is the ordinary spoken English of his time, which is near enough the same as ours. “Ye” and “thee” only appear where formal speech requires it, or the elderly priest is talking. “Not”, “get” and “do” have their modern places in the sentence.MANFRED. “Ye behold in me a man disgusted with the world: the loss of my son has weaned me from earthly cares. Power and greatness have no longer any charms in my eyes. I wished to transmit the sceptre I had received from my ancestors with honour to my son -- but that is over! Life itself is so indifferent to me, that I accepted your defiance with joy.” -- The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole (1764)Apparently, early reviewers loved the work until they discovered that the preface claiming that The Castle of Otranto was a translation from an 11th or 12th century Italian manuscript was as fictional as the story itself. Then they hated it. That is the second funniest scene in literary history.

  • Ana Rînceanu
    2019-03-06 22:51

    To be honest, I thought I was reading an adventure novel. So it was all fun and melodrama until the ending. And the ending sort of colored the rest of the book for me. Checking Wikipedia, I was surprised to discover that this book is a Gothic novel. I can see how people in the 18th century found the actions and main villain horrific, but in the 21 century the novel feels camp and I may read this again to see if my rating changes. The writing is nothing spectacular, but I'm glad to have read Walpole.