2018 Jan 14
First published pseudonymously in 1764, The Castle of Otranto purported to be a translation of an Italian story of the time of the crusades. In it Walpole attempted, as he declared in the Preface to the Second Edition, “to blend the two kinds of romance: the ancient and the modern.” Crammed with invention, entertainment, terror, and pathos, the novel was an immediate success and Walpole’s own favorite among his numerous works.
The Castle of Otranto is commonly regarded as the first Gothic novel ever written, and the all too familiar storyline is evidence of this fact. It is however still a very compelling read due to its ability to remind the reader of the stories that influenced its creation, and of the foundation it lays for stories to come.
The lover of classics such as Frankenstein will greatly enjoy this little novel, with elements of the Gothic genre that are all too familiar to a 21st century reader, but also elements that highlight the way the genre has evolved. Walpole writes the simplest and most familiar of storylines, generating a satisfaction in being able to recognize it and anticipation in what is to come.