Four Gothic Novels

By Horace Walpole; William Beckford et al. | Go to book overview

PREFACE

[1818]

THE event on which this fiction is founded, has been supposed, by Dr Darwin, and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence. I shall not be supposed as according the remotest degree of serious faith to such an imagination; yet, in assuming it as the basis of a work of fancy. I have not considered myself as merely weaving a series of supernatural terrors. The event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchantment. It was recommended by the novelty of the situations which it developes; and, however impossible as a physical fact, affords a point of view to the imagination for the delineating of human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield.

I have thus endeavoured to preserve the truth of the elementary principles of human nature, while I have not scrupled to innovate upon their combinations. The Iliad, the tragic poetry of Greece, —Shakespeare, in the Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream, —and most especially Milton, in Paradise Lost, conform to this rule; and the most humble novelist, who seeks to confer or receive amusement from his labours, may, without presumption, apply to prose fiction a licence, or rather a rule, from the adoption of which so many exquisite combinations of human feeling have resulted in the highest specimens of poetry.

The circumstance on which my story rests was suggested in casual conversation. It was commenced partly as a source of amusement, and partly as an expedient for exercising any untried resources of mind. Other motives were mingled with these, as the work proceeded. I am by no means indifferent to the manner in which whatever moral tendencies exist in the sentiments or characters it contains shall affect the reader; yet my chief concern in this respect has been limited to the avoiding the enervating effects of the novels of the present day, and to the exhibition of the amiaoleness of domestic affection, and the excellence of universal virtue. The opinions which naturally spring from the character and situation of the hero are by no means to be conceived as existing always in my own conviction; nor is any inference justly to be drawn from the following pages as prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind.

It is a subject also of additional interest to the author, that this story was begun in the majestic region where the scene is principally laid, and in

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Four Gothic Novels
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Four Gothic Novels *
  • The Castle of Otranto *
  • Contents *
  • The Castle of Otranto *
  • A Chronology of Horace Walpole *
  • The Castle of Otranto, - A Story. *
  • Preface to the First Edition *
  • Preface to the Second Edition *
  • Sonnet - To the Right Honourable Lady Mary Coke *
  • The Castle of Otranto - A Gothic Story *
  • Chapter I *
  • Chapter II 31
  • Chapter III 44
  • Chapter IV 57
  • Chapter V 69
  • Vathek *
  • A Chronology of William Beckford *
  • Vathek *
  • The Monk *
  • A Chronology of Matthew Lewis *
  • The Monk - A Romance *
  • Preface *
  • Table of the Poetry *
  • Advertisement *
  • Volume I *
  • Chapter I *
  • Chapter II 186
  • Chapter III 220
  • Volume II *
  • Chapter I *
  • Chapter II 283
  • Chapter III 304
  • Chapter IV 325
  • Volume III *
  • Chapter I *
  • Chapter II 357
  • Chapter III *
  • Chapter IV 403
  • Chapter V 430
  • Frankenstein *
  • A Chronology of Mary Shelley *
  • Frankenstein - Or the Modern Prometheus *
  • Introduction - [1831] *
  • Preface - [1818] *
  • Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus *
  • Letter I *
  • Letter II 463
  • Letter III 466
  • Letter IV *
  • Chapter I 472
  • Chapter II 475
  • Chapter III 480
  • Chapter IV 485
  • Chapter V 490
  • Chapter VI 494
  • Chapter VII *
  • Chapter VIII *
  • Chapter IX *
  • Chapter X 517
  • Chapter XI 521
  • Chapter XII 527
  • Chapter XIII 531
  • Chapter XIV 535
  • Chapter XV *
  • Chapter XVI *
  • Chapter XVII 551
  • Chapter XVIII 554
  • Chapter XIX 560
  • Chapter XX 565
  • Chapter XXI 571
  • Chapter XXII 578
  • Chapter XXIII 585
  • Chapter XXIV 590
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