William Beckford

Three Gothic Novels
  • Three Gothic Novels

  • The Gothic novel, which flourished from about 1765 until 1825, revels in the horrible and the supernatural, in suspense and exotic settings.

    This volume, with its erudite introduction by Mario Praz, presents three of the most celebrated Gothic novels: The Castle of Otranto, published pseudonymously in 1765, is one of the first of the genre and the most truly Gothic of the three. Vathek (1786), an oriental tale by an eccentric millionaire, exotically combines Gothic romanticism with the vivacity of The Arabian Nights and is a narrative tour de force. The story of Frankenstein (1818) and the monster he created is as spine-chilling today as it ever was; as in all Gothic novels, horror is the keynote.

William Beckford (1760-1844) inherited a large fortune and, at the age of nineteen, went on a tour of Holland, Germany, Belgium, France and Italy. He was a Member of Parliament and a traveller who spent large sums of money collecting rare books, curiosities and paintings for the embellishment of his Gothic Extravaganza, Fonthill Abbey, where he lived in opulent seclusion until forced by bankruptcy to sell it in 1822.

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