Imagining the Undefined Castle in The Castle of Otranto: Engravings and Interpretations

Peter N. Lindfield

Abstract


The Castle of Otranto was a pioneering work: the second edition is the first piece of literary work to include “a Gothic story” in its title, and it is frequently held up as the first in a long line of Gothic novels. Literary scholars have afforded it significant attention, but little has been written about Otranto’s range of engraved illustrations, first incorporated in the sixth, 1791, edition. This essay examines how the novel was visualised through Georgian engravings, and questions whether they present a castle that we can immediately recognise, to use Walpole’s phrase, as a “child of Strawberry [Hill]”, his Gothic villa.1


Keywords


Gothic Revival; Strawberry Hill; The Castle of Otranto; Gothic novel; Gothic imagination; book illustration; Gothic art; visual culture; architecture

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Online Magazine of the Visual Narrative - ISSN 1780-678X