The Castle of Otranto is generally regarded as the first gothic novel. It 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 horrifying event sets up the action to follow.From its beginnings in 1956 to today, the Joint European Series (JES) of Classics Illustrated has provided youthful minds with beautifully-illustrated comic book adaptations of the world's most beloved stories by the world's greatest authors. These books encourage a love of reading and adventure.A collection of Classics Illustrated books is an inviting start to any young person's library.
On the day of his wedding, Conrad, heir to the house of Otranto, is killed in mysterious circumstances. His calculating father Manfred fears that his dynasty will now come to an end and determines to marry his son's bride himself - despite the fact he is already married. But a series of terrifying supernatural omens soon threaten this unlawful union, as the curse placed on Manfred's ancestor, who usurped the lawful Prince of Otranto, begins to unfold. First published pseudonymously in 1764, purporting to be an ancient Italian text from the time of the crusades, The Castle of Otranto is a founding work of Gothic fiction. With its compelling blend of sinister portents, tempestuous passions and ghostly visitations, it spawned an entire literary tradition and influenced such writers as Ann Radcliffe and Bram Stoker.
Regarded as the first gothic horror novel ever written, The Castle of Otranto is a dark, thrilling tale, delightfully shocking for its time and hugely influential. A fantastic, provocative and playful tale of medieval dynastic and sexual politics, The Castle of Otranto is regarded as the first ever published gothic novel and has inspired authors from Edgar Allan Poe to J.K. Rowling. Abounding with unfulfilled prophecies, supernatural occurrences, adventure, suspense and destiny it follows the fortunes of the royal family of Sicily in the thirteenth century. Prince Conrad is crushed to death on the day of his wedding to the beautiful Princess Isabella. Heirless and terrified of an ancient prophecy that foretells the downfall of his dynasty his father, King Manfred, divorces his wife and resolves to marry the princess himself. Far from enamoured with her new fiancé, Isabella flees the royal castle and makes for the sanctuary of a nearby church with the help of the humble Theodore. When the pair is captured their respective fates seem inescapable; but at the moment of Theodore's death, delivery comes from the most unexpected of places.
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'. He gives us a series of catastrophes, ghostly interventions, revelations of identity, and exciting contests. Crammed with invention, entertainment, terror, and pathos, the novel was an immediate success and Walpole's own favourite among his numerous works. His friend, the poet Thomas Gray, wrote that he and his family, having read Otranto, were now `afraid to go to bed o'nights'.
The novel is here reprinted from a text of 1798, the last that Walpole himself prepared for the press.