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The Test of Time

Some, these days, seem to think a book that did not come out last week is not worth reading. But serious readers know better.

The Castle of Otranto, published in 1764 by English Parliamentarian Horace Walpole, is a prime example of a story that never truly fades.

While publishers these days would take exception to the shortness of the book, and no doubt would demand more description to fill the pages, this 18th century Gothic romance keeps the reader engaged as the pace moves briskly from one event to the next.

The lack of quotation marks and separated paragraphs to indicate changes of speaker in the dialogue require the reader to pay attention. Some of the words require reference to a dictionary, though the footnotes and endnotes in the World’s Classics Oxford University Press edition provide useful information. The setting is even more ancient than the date of publication. The manners of the characters seem strange in the context of the modern day, the deference of the dutiful wife and daughter enough to make a twentysomething cringe. And many would consider the supernatural elements laughable.

Nevertheless, there is a reason this classic, described as the earliest of the Gothic novels, remains in print nearly three hundred years after its first release.

A good story is a good story is a good story. Would you agree?