Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

The seasonal Christmas ghost story tradition pre-dates Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but the narrative is filled with holes. Some place The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole within this narrative, striving to fill the gaps that exist. Despite the novel’s publication on Christmas Eve and note in the preface that it is part of the canon of the Church of St. Nicholas, the evidence is too thin to make a definitive claim that Otranto was written as a Christmas ghost story. In fact, examining newspaper archives from the eighteenth century surrounding the publication of Otranto, delving into the historical connections between St. Nicholas and Christmas, and viewing Horace Walpole’s personal correspondence reveals little reason to suspect that Otranto was written intentionally in the tradition of Christmas ghost stories, but could have influenced the trajectory of the tradition after its publication.

Location

B150 JFSB

Start Date

19-3-2015 11:30 AM

End Date

19-3-2015 1:00 PM

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Mar 19th, 11:30 AM Mar 19th, 1:00 PM

The Castle of Otranto as a Christmas Ghost Story

B150 JFSB

The seasonal Christmas ghost story tradition pre-dates Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but the narrative is filled with holes. Some place The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole within this narrative, striving to fill the gaps that exist. Despite the novel’s publication on Christmas Eve and note in the preface that it is part of the canon of the Church of St. Nicholas, the evidence is too thin to make a definitive claim that Otranto was written as a Christmas ghost story. In fact, examining newspaper archives from the eighteenth century surrounding the publication of Otranto, delving into the historical connections between St. Nicholas and Christmas, and viewing Horace Walpole’s personal correspondence reveals little reason to suspect that Otranto was written intentionally in the tradition of Christmas ghost stories, but could have influenced the trajectory of the tradition after its publication.