June 21, 2010

The Castle of Otranto

Title : The Castle of Otranto
Author : Horace Walpole
Reading Dates : 19 Jun - 21 Jun 2010
The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (Oxford World's Classics)

Book Summary of The Castle of Otranto.
Fearing that his son's death is a portend of the end of his rule over Otranto due to an old prophecy, Prince Manfred decides to divorce his own wife and marry his late son's affianced. Upon learning of the Prince of Otranto's intentions, the Lady Isabella flees from him and seeks sanctuary in St. Nicholas's church.

While attempting to capture Isabella, Manfred apprehends instead Theodore, who at first appears to be a lowly peasant. Once he learns Theodore is Jerome's long-lost son, he uses Theodore as a hostage to force Jerome to hand over Isabella. Luckily, Theodore escapes with the assistance of Manfred's daughter, Matilda.

In due time, Theodore is revealed to be the rightful ruler of Otranto. And Manfred himself repents of his actions after he mistakenly kills his own daughter.

Book Review of The Castle of Otranto.
At 5 chapters, The Castle of Otranto is a relatively short tale. But adjusting to the style of writing of the 18th century and the values it espouses takes some getting use to. If this were a work of our time, I would probably hate it. As it is, I'm not sure what to think.

It may have been the author's intention to portray Princess Hippolita as being a dutiful wife, but to me her blind obedience smacks more of stupidity. Imagine agreeing to a divorce simply because her husband wished it. Even yielding to her husband's wishes to let him marry his recently deceased son's fiance. This despite the fiance's objections to said proposal.

And the portrayal of the servants is rather unflattering. All of them appear to be an easily excitable lot with little courage or sense. I suppose the idea here is for them to provide the elements of comedy but their actions appear more irritating than humorous to me.

To think that the paranormal romances I'm now reading had its start with gothic fiction like The Castle of Otranto is mind boggling. There seems very little similarities in my mind but what do I know.

Take a peek at it. Read it for free if you like but my advise is not to buy the book.

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