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Her extensive research not only covers Gothic literature's best-known and most studied texts but also engages with more than Gothic works in total, expanding knowledge of first-wave Gothic fiction as well as opening new windows into familiar work.

Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Her book includes ten chapters, plus a helpful introduction and a forward-looking conclusion. The argument builds gradually and grows in complexity as it goes along The project as a whole opens up an important conversation. Show More Show Less.

The literary gothic and the revival of romance

Best Selling in Nonfiction See all. Save on Nonfiction Trending price is based on prices over last 90 days. You may also like. In the second edition, Walpole applied the word 'Gothic' to the novel in the subtitle — "A Gothic Story".

Portraiture and British gothic fiction - Research Portal | Lancaster University

The novel merged medievalism and terror in a style that has endured ever since. The aesthetics of the book shaped modern-day gothic books, films, art, music and the goth subculture. Walpole was fascinated with medieval history, building in a fake gothic castle, Strawberry Hill House.

Translated by William Marshal, Gent. Nicholas at Otranto. This first edition purported to be a translation based on a manuscript printed at Naples in [1] and recently rediscovered in the library of "an ancient Catholic family in the north of England".

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This "ancient Catholic family" is possibly the Percy family, as Walpole would have known the Duke of Northumberland and his wife Elizabeth Percy , though this is not proven. He employed an archaic style of writing to further reinforce this.

The Italian manuscript's story, it was claimed, derived from a story still older, dating back perhaps as far as the Crusades. In the second and subsequent editions, Walpole acknowledges authorship of his work, writing: "The favourable manner in which this little piece has been received by the public, calls upon the author to explain the grounds on which he composed it" as "an attempt to blend the two kinds of romance, the ancient and the modern.


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In the former all was imagination and improbability: in the latter, nature is always intended to be, and sometimes has been, copied with success The first edition was well received by some reviewers who understood the novel as belonging to medieval fiction, "between , the era of the First Crusade , and , the date of the last", as the first preface states; and some referred to Walpole as an "ingenious translator".

In his edition of The Castle of Otranto , Montague Summers showed that the life story of Manfred of Sicily inspired some details of the plot. The real medieval castle of Otranto was among Manfred's possessions. The Castle of Otranto tells the story of Manfred, lord of the castle, and his family. The book begins on the wedding-day of his sickly son Conrad and princess Isabella.

Shortly before the wedding, however, Conrad is crushed to death by a gigantic helmet that falls on him from above. This inexplicable event is particularly ominous in light of an ancient prophecy, "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".

Gothic Fiction

Manfred, terrified that Conrad's death signals the beginning of the end for his line, resolves to avert destruction by marrying Isabella himself while divorcing his current wife Hippolita, who he feels has failed to bear him a proper heir. However, as Manfred attempts to marry Isabella, she escapes to a church with the aid of a peasant named Theodore.

Manfred orders Theodore's death while talking to the friar Jerome, who ensured Isabella's safety in the church. When Theodore removes his shirt to be killed, Jerome recognizes a marking below his shoulder and identifies Theodore as his own son. Jerome begs for his son's life, but Manfred says Jerome must either give up the princess or his son's life. They are interrupted by a trumpet and the entrance of knights from another kingdom who want to deliver Isabella.

This leads the knights and Manfred to race to find Isabella. Theodore, having been locked in a tower by Manfred, is freed by Manfred's daughter Matilda. He races to the underground church and finds Isabella. He hides her in a cave and blocks it to protect her from Manfred and ends up fighting one of the mysterious knights. Theodore badly wounds the knight, who turns out to be Isabella's father, Frederic. With that, they all go up to the castle to work things out. Frederic falls in love with Matilda and he and Manfred begin to make a deal about marrying each other's daughters.

Manfred, suspecting that Isabella is meeting Theodore in a tryst in the church, takes a knife into the church, where Matilda is meeting Theodore. Thinking his own daughter is Isabella, he stabs her. Theodore is then revealed to be the true prince of Otranto and Matilda dies, leaving Manfred to repent. Theodore becomes king and eventually marries Isabella because she is the only one who can understand his true sorrow.

In the preface of the second edition, Walpole claims the novel is "an attempt to blend the two kinds of romance , the ancient and the modern. By combining fantastic situations helmets falling from the sky, walking portraits, etc. The Castle of Otranto is the first supernatural English novel and one of the most influential works of Gothic fiction.

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It blends elements of realist fiction with the supernatural and fantastical, establishing many of the plot devices and character-types that would become typical of the Gothic novel: secret passages, clanging trapdoors, pictures beginning to move, and doors closing by themselves. The first and most obvious connection to William Shakespeare is presented by Horace Walpole himself, in the preface to the second edition of Otranto , in which he "praises Shakespeare as a truly original genius and the exemplar of imaginative liberty, as a part of a defense of Otranto ' s design".

10 Elements of Gothic Literature

For example, in Hamlet , "Hamlet's encounter with the Ghost becomes for Walpole a template for terror". Walpole presents a "more fragmented recasting" of the Ghost in Hamlet , which had served as a representation of the "now unsanctioned, but still popular Catholic view of ghosts as speakers of truth" for Shakespeare. The Catholic element was a necessary facet of the "template of terror" that Walpole meant to invoke. The allusion to Hamlet's experience with the Ghost is meant not only as a "template of terror", but also serves to make the reader invoke the feeling of watching the play itself and he does so on three separate occasions.

First, Walpole poses Manfred's encounter with the animated portrait of Ricardo as a connection to the Ghost's initial appearance to Hamlet. Second, when Friar Jerome informs Theodore of the dangers to be found in Otranto and he calls for him to take out his revenge correspond to the Ghost's demand to Hamlet to "remember [him]". Third, Frederic's encounter with the skeletal apparition parallels the final appearance of the Ghost in Hamlet.