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The Castle of Otranto

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
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The Castle of Otranto is a 1764 novel by Horace
Walpole. It is generally held to be the first gothic novel,
initiating a literary genre which would become extremely
popular in the later 18th century and early 19th
century. Thus, Castle, and Walpole by extension is
arguably the forerunner to such authors as Ann
Radcliffe, Bram Stoker, Daphne du Maurier, and
Stephen King.

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Transcribed from the 1901 Cassell and Company edition by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk

THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

The following work was found in the library of an ancient Catholic family in the north of England. It was printed at Naples, in the black letter, in the year 1529. How much sooner it was written does not appear. The principal incidents are such as were believed in the darkest ages of Christianity; but the language and conduct have nothing that savours of barbarism. The style is the purest Italian.

If the story was written near the time when it is supposed to have happened, it must have been between 1095, the era of the first Crusade, and 1243, the date of the last, or not long afterwards. There is no other circumstance in the work that can lead us to guess at the period in which the scene is laid: the names of the actors are evidently fictitious, and probably disguised on purpose: yet the Spanish names of the domestics seem to indicate that this work was not composed until the establishment of the Arragonian Kings in Naples had made Spanish appellations familiar in that country... Continue reading book >>


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