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Posts Tagged ‘Horace Walpole’

A Mountain of Sable Plumes

January 22, 2014 | by

strawberry-hill

Strawberry Hill, Walpole’s Gothic revivalist manor, in Twickenham.

Earlier this week, to commemorate Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, Flavorpill found ten Gothic short stories for our delectation, and I must say, they’re really hitting the spot. January is especially well suited to the tint of the Gothic mindset—nothing helps you settle into the winter doldrums like an unceasing parade of bloodied knives, thousand-yard stares, disemboweled corpses, creaking doors, and shrieking virgins. It’s enough to make you want to sunder a frilled shirt and drink rancid port from a tarnished silver chalice, muttering all the while about the gloaming, the gloaming, the gloaming

And let’s not forget the funereal knell of church bells. You’ll want those, too.

If you really want to whip yourself into a Gothic froth, I recommend The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel, widely regarded as the forebear of the Gothic proper. It’s not “good,” exactly—you won’t find independent booksellers foisting it on you as a forgotten classic—but it packs a lot of senseless murk into a slim volume, and it features one of my favorite opening scenes in all of literature: a homely young man is crushed to death by a giant helmet, which seems to have fallen from the sky. Read More »

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