Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

Book: The Castle of Otranto
Author: Horace Walpole
Narrator: Tony Jay
Format: Audio Book from the Library
Published Date: 1764

I just finished listening to Horace Walpole's classic gothic novel The Castle of Otranto.  It's considered the first gothic novel in the English language.  Back in 1764, Walpole must have been a character.  He first claimed that he found this manuscript, printed in 1529 and translated it.  Later on, after it became widely popular did he say "ha ha I actually wrote it" or something like that.  Wow, that so wouldn't fly today.

What did I think of this novel?  Eh.  I first picked it up because it's a classic gothic novel perfect for the R.I.P. V Challenge.  It's also on my ongoing challenge to read the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  But I was a little disappointing.  At first I was enthralled but then it just drooped off.  It kind of reminded me of Hamlet...but not as good.

Anyway, here's the story:

Manfred and Hippolita are lord and lady of castle Otranto.  They have two children: Matilda and Conrad.  Conrad is scheduled to be married to lady Isabella in haste because Conrad is a pretty sickly boy.  However, on the day of the wedding, Conrad is crushed and killed by a giant helm (I Googled it and it seems to be a giant helmet worn by a knight).  Now without an heir, Manfred decides to pressure Isabella into marrying him.  He makes a silly plea that Hippolita and him should get a divorce because they are cousins or something of the sort (reminds me of Henry VIII does it not?).  Isabella flees the castle and is helped in her escape by a peasant who happens to be handsome and well versed.

Ok there is a bit more left to the plot but I'd be giving away the whole story.  Up through Isabella's flight I was all for the story.  But after that it got a little predictable, slow, and well...eh.   There are a few supernatural things - ghostly figures, paintings and sounds but not enough for me to enjoy it.

Also Reviewed by:

Books I Done Read
Age 30+ A Lifetime of Books
Things Mean a Lot

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