Horace Walpole, 'The Castle of Otranto' (1764)
I have removed some scanning errors, and added a picture of the real castle of Otranto and a TOC.
This novella was the original gothic novel. Prince Manfred of Otranto is having trouble with apparitions and strange happenings in his castle. How will the mysterious prophecy about his family succession be fulfilled? Will any family members survive? Or will they be punished up to the third generation?
Horace Walpole was the fourth son of Robert Walpole, the first British Prime Minister. His fondness for things gothic is well-known and, single-handedly he popularised the style. Not only did he produce this gothic novel but he built a gothic mansion at Strawberry Hill, near Twickenham.
If you liked Dr Johnson's 'Rasselas' or Beckford's 'Vathek' then you will probably like this. I have to admit that while the prose is beautiful, Walpole is not so good at capturing a spooky atmosphere. Some of the apparitions are (for me) unintentionally funny.
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