Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Castle of Otranto

by Horace Walpole
Champaign, Ill. : Boulder, Colo. : Project Gutenberg, [199-?] (orig. pub. 1764)

This classic tells the story of Manfred, who is prince of Otranto, as his father and grandfather before him. An odd prophecy dogs him, and he is determined to marry his son to a young woman, Isabella. But mysterious forces appear to be working against Manfred, beginning with a giant helmet that falls out of the sky, killing his son.

I'm sure the story was supposed to have - and once upon a time did have - a creepy feel to it. Every now and then, I did get a bit of that delicious thrill down the spine that the supernatural elements were supposed to engender. Most of the time, however, I couldn't quite suspend my disbelief enough to really embrace the story, and I found myself laughing (only sometimes when I should have been). I enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed following the tutoring thread even more, but I enjoyed it more for the analysis as a predecessor of Gothic novels, never really sinking into the story enough to be fully invested in it, but observing it from the outside.

This was the second e-book I read, and the first I downloaded from Project Gutenberg. I have to say, the whole process of reading on my e-reader has been quite enjoyable. I loved being able to highlight passages and look up words right away in a built-in dictionary. While my e-reader doesn't replace the experience of reading a paper book, I really liked having its lightness in bed while I was sick last week.

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