0045 | The Castle of Otranto ~ Horace Walpole

If you enjoyed this book, you’re going to love the map.

REVIEW
What a romp… but what a tragedy.

This has more melodrama in it than Hamlet or Macbeth put together. And, boy, does it move at a pace. This guy could have written for a soap opera he crams so much into a 48-hour period. It’s amazing. And his protagonists wouldn’t be any good at knitting, so fast do their lives unravel.

But it is such a product of it’s time. Women are swooning everywhere, men are avenging their honour and God is everpresent but never mentioned. If you want a good idea of what an 18th century man thought people thought in the early middle ages, this is a great book to read so obvious are the opinions.

And this was a refreshing change from reading Ishiguro and Murakami recently. When 100 years has rolled by, people reading novels from our times won’t have the faintest idea what we really thought as a society. Our novelists are scared by the witch-hunting literati into hedging their viewpoints so much that we go round ashamed to even guess what we think on issues. At least a good delve into the previous centuries reveals what people thought, for better or worse.

For instance, at one point, Hippolita, when challenged to rise up against the adulterous passions of her hell-bent husband, utters, “heaven, our fathers, and our husbands, must decide for us.” Now, it may not reflect your view of how women should live, but at least you know where she stands. And, in this supposed age of tolerance, why can’t people state their views this boldly? The irony is that for all our spouting about tolerance, acceptance of differences and respect for alternative lifestyles, contemporary society would react like the inquisition were anyone to make such a bold-faced statement today.

So, full of melodrama and so not really my cup of tea as a narrative, it was great to get a glimpse into the mindset of days gone by when fate played so much more a part of our lives.

OPENING LINE
Manfred, prince of Otranto, had one son and one daughter: the latter, a most beautiful virgin, aged eighteen, was called Matilda.

WORDS
poignard | orison | shreive | cowl | halidame | encomium

GEOGRAPHY

If you’ve got Google Earth installed on your pc, you can actually see the locations mentioned in this book by downloading Arukiyomi’s Google Earth – The Castle of Otranto file.

CLOSING LINE
Frederic, offered his daughter to the new prince: but Theodore’s grief was too fresh to admit the thought of another love; and it was not till after frequent discourses with Isabella, of his dear Matilda, that he was persuaded he could know no happiness but in the society of one with whom he could forever indulge the melancholy that had taken possession of his soul.

RATING:
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good> excellent > superb

  • aurore December 2, 2007, 11:34 pm

    what did you think about Control in the book?

    Reply
  • Arukiyomi December 3, 2007, 11:28 am

    you mean, as in the control the father tried to exert over his family?

    Reply

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