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The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

Beautifully bound hardback edition by Black Letter Press.

"The Castle of Otranto," written by Horace Walpole in 1764, is often regarded as the first Gothic novel. Its initial edition claimed to be a translation of a 1529 Naples manuscript found in the library of an ancient Catholic family in northern England.

The story revolves around Manfred, the prince of Otranto, who desperately seeks to secure the castle's future for his descendants in the face of a mysterious curse.

The novel begins with the tragic death of Manfred's son, Conrad, who is fatally crushed by a gigantic helmet on his wedding day to the beautiful princess Isabella. Fearing the end of his family line, Manfred resolves to divorce his wife and marry the terrified Isabella himself.

"The Castle of Otranto" blends elements of realistic fiction with the supernatural and fantastical, introducing numerous plot twists and character types that would become staples of the Gothic genre: hidden passages, echoing trapdoors, concealed identities, and vulnerable heroines fleeing from sinister antagonists.

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