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Walpole, Horace (1717-1797) The Castle of Otranto, a Story. Translated by William Marshal, Gent. From the Original Italian of Onuphrio Muralto, Canon of the Church of St. Nicholas at Otranto.
London: Printed for Tho. Lownds, 1765 [i.e. 1764].
First edition, octavo, bound in full modern calf with black spine label; edges not trimmed at time of recent rebinding, some spotting to contents, 7 x 4 in.
Walpole's anonymously published Otranto is considered the first in the genre of Gothic fiction. It's hard to imagine the novel as we now know it devoid of so-called gothic elements. A looming threat of inexplicable and possibly supernatural terror haunts the characters who occupy gloomy castles and creepy dark forests of antiquity. Meanwhile, unseen forces, including anything from hereditary curses to the unwanted appearance of spectral spirits with old axes to grind are poised to enter the action at every turn. Now standard fare for fiction and fantasy novelists, the trappings of gothic horror introduced by Walpole quickly caught on with writers who still actively mine the vein.