Friday, January 25, 2013

The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

This book is more notable for establishing and defining a genre than being the best work in that genre. If you've ever wondered why things are termed "Gothic" when they have no connection whatsoever to the Germanic tribes that sacked Rome, look no further than this book. Walpole initially presented "The Castle of Otranto" as a translation of a Gothic tale. In the second edition he copped to the authorship, but the usage of the term "Gothic" to refer to anything with a tendency toward the occult and/or macabre was already established (also partially due to a revival of Gothic architecture, which Walpole happened to be involved in as well). So there you have it: from Walpole to The Cure to the kid in the funny pants at Hot Topic. The book itself is fairly interesting and an ok read (though the fourth chapter is bo-ho-ho-horing). Check it out if you ever want to know where all this Gothic business came from. If you're looking for great Gothic fiction, however, I would probably point you somewhere else.

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