Homosocial Sins and Identity in Horace Walpole‘s The Castle of Otranto
Readings of William Beckford‘s novel Vathek suggest it encodes homoerotic desire and suspect masculinity in its themes and narrative structure when read alongside the life of the author. Horace Walpole‘s The Castle of Otranto can be read with the same methodology. The narratives of identity reversal, both gender and social, and its tropes of hyperbolic masculinity as sources of fear are interpreted according to the central importance gender has for understanding Walpole‘s conception of his sexuality. The novel exhibits a fear of gossip and rumour over identity, which may be related to a fear of public exposure of homoerotic desire as it is (mis)understood in terms of same-sex practice between men.
Scholars of eighteenth-century literature have long seen the development of the
Gothic as a break from neoclassical aesthetics, but this article posits a more
complex engagement with classical imitation at the origins of the genre. In
Horace Walpole’s formative Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto,
his Gothic drama The Mysterious Mother, and in the curiosities
in his villa, classical elements are detached from their contexts and placed in
startling and strange juxtapositions. His tendency towards the fragmentation of
ancient culture, frequently expressed through the imagery of dismemberment,
suggests an aesthetic not of imitation, but of collection. Moreover, rather than
abandoning or ignoring the classical, Walpole reconfigures literary history to
demonstrate elements of monstrosity and hybridity already present in Greek and
This book explores a number of Alan Moore's works in various forms, including comics, performance, short prose and the novel, and presents a scholarly study of these texts. It offers additional readings to argue for a politically charged sense of Moore's position within the Gothic tradition, investigates surreal Englishness in The Bojeffries Saga, and discusses the doppelganger in Swamp Thing and From Hell. Radical environmental activism can be conceived as a Gothic politics invoking the malevolent spectre of a cataclysmic eco-apocalypse. The book presents Christian W. Schneider's treatment of the apocalyptic in Watchmen and a reassessment of the significance of liminality from the Gothic tradition in V for Vendetta. It explores the relationship between Moore's work and broader textual traditions, placing particular emphasis on the political and cultural significance of intertextual relationships and adaptations. A historically sensitive reading of From Hell connects Moore's concern with the urban environment to his engagement with a range of historical discourses. The book elucidates Moore's treatment of the superhero in relation to key Gothic novels such as The Castle of Otranto and presents an analysis of the nexus of group politics and survival in Watchmen. The book also engages in Moore's theories of art, magic, resurrections, and spirits in its discourse A Small Killing, A Disease of Language, and the Voice of the Fire. It also explores the insight that his adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft, which are laced with heterocosms and bricolage, can yield for broader understandings of his forays into the occult.
In the anonymous preface to the
first edition of TheCastleofOtranto ( 1765 ) Horace Walpole informs us of the
provenance of his text. Printed at Naples in 1529, written in the purest
Italian, it was found ‘in the library of an ancient catholic family in
the North of England’ (Walpole 1968 : 39). Internal evidence suggests 1095 to
1243 as the setting but Walpole believes it to have been written
David Hume, Horace Walpole and the Emergence of Gothic Fiction
This article explores the complex, oft en antagonistic relationship between Horace Walpole‘s The Castle of Otranto (1764) and David Hume‘s The History of England (1754–62). Focusing on textuality and the interrelationship between literature and history, answers to a number of questions are sought. For example, why is Otranto so concerned with historical authenticity, what techniques does Walpole use to write the past and how do these compare with Humes methods? Walpole had read several volumes of Hume‘s history before writing his Gothic novel and this article proposes that Otranto can be read as a bold response to The History of England.
In an influential essay, Rolf Loeber and Magda Stouthamer-Loeber have claimed that The
Adventures of Miss Sophia Berkley, by A Young Lady, which was published in 1760 (four
years before Horace Walpoles The Castle of Otranto), is an Irish Gothic novel. The Loebers
claims have been supported and developed by later critics, such as Christina Morin and
Jarlath Killeen. Using the methodology of rhetorical hermeneutics, this essay investigates
the validity, from a literary poetics perspective, of categorising Sophia Berkley as an
Irish Gothic novel. I argue that the Loebers, Morin, and Killeen do not make a convincing
case for doing so.
reference to Horace Walpole’s TheCastleofOtranto and
Matthew Lewis’ The Monk . Attention will be given to a
neglected reading of Walpole’s novel as a satire of Henry VIII,
while Lewis’ Bleeding Nun, who is resurrected in later works,
will be seen to represent aspects of the Reign of Terror in
Many critics regard the Gothic novel as traditionally
Critics of the Gothic have typically stated that ancient, foreign, Catholic, Italy was generally an obvious choice as the site of early Gothic ‘otherness’. I argue that Walpole‘s choice of Italy was in fact overdetermined by his experiences there from 1739–41. In Italy, Walpole learned various strategies for disguising a self implicitly unacceptable in England. Italy was notorious for its homoerotic subcultures. Its Carnevale institutionalised the masquerade, and Italian opera performed the notion that gender is a performance. Upon his return to England, Walpole constructed Strawberry Hill, his most extravagant and elaborate masquerade. Years later, when the dream of his grand staircase impelled, The Castle of Otranto, another disguise was expressed. According to Otranto, Strawberry Hill was the unconscious embodiment of the English cultural prohibitions imposed upon him; the first Gothic novel is also the first closet.
The Catholic other in Horace Walpole and Charles Maturin
from within, the fear that enthusiasm is
‘corruption’ indeed, a force equally compromised by a
tendency to despotism, subjugation and religious war.
Turning to Horace Walpole’s TheCastleofOtranto (1765), the prototype of Gothic romance, is the quickest
way of taking one’s generic bearings when discussing early
Gothic, which is what I wish now to do. After that I will briefly