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The History of Caliph Vathek

William Beckford

Book Overview: 

The Caliph Vathek is one of the wealthiest and most powerful men who ever lived. But this is not enough for him. He seeks also forbidden knowledge, and doesn't care who he has to hurt to get it. Aided by his depraved mother Carathis, Vathek proceeds to damn himself, and those around him.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .They all gazed at each other with an air of astonishment; and, notwithstanding that the loss of veils and turbans, together with torn habits and dust blended with sweat, presented a most laughable spectacle, there was not one smile to be seen; on the contrary, all, with looks of confusion and sadness, returned in silence to Samarah, and retired to their inmost apartments, without ever reflecting that they had been impelled by an invisible power into the extravagance for which they reproached themselves; for it is but just that men, who so often arrogate to their own merit the good of which they are but instruments, should attribute to themselves the absurdities which they could not prevent.

The Caliph was the only person that refused to leave the valley.  He commanded his tents to be pitched there, and stationed himself on the very edge of the precipice, in spite of the representations of Carathis and Morakanabad, who pointed out the hazard of its brink givi. . . Read More

Community Reviews

There is a story behind my purchasing this book. I occasionally bid on book lots at the local auction house. Recently I bid on a box of books which looked rather interesting. I managed to transpose the numbers and ended up with a different box of books, most of which I didn’t want. However there wer

Caliph Vathek the ruler in fabulous Baghdad, and its extended Empire, the Middle East and Africa...Grandson of the illustrious Harun al -Rashid, but not his equal to say the least, from the Arabian Nights fame (this is fiction, folks , with only a very vague resemblance to a real man, so don't bothe

Underground palaces! Concealed didacticism! Homosexual indiscretions!

A preposterous proto-orientalist fantasia, full of afrits, genies, harems and evil plots. Based very loosely on the life of the ninth-century caliph al-Wathik, it is structured around a Faustian deal with the devil – it's a fast read and tonally quite a strange one. Obviously Beckford was enamoured

«Ο Φάουστ της Ανατολής»

Ένα εξωτικό ανατολίτικο παραμύθι συνδυασμένο με τη γοητεία του γοτθικού ρομαντισμού δημιουργούν την
"Ιστορία του χαλίφη Βατέκ".

Μια υπερφυσική μαγεία υποβλητικής ομορφιάς,
σχεδόν υπνωτιστικής,
που αφιερώνεται- φορώντας το μαύρο μανδύα του μεσαίωνα-
σαν σπάνιος πολύτιμος λίθος,στ

Vathek, William Beckford

Edited with an introduction by Roger Lonsdale, London: Oxford university press, 1970=1349, 187 Pages

Vathek (alternatively titled Vathek, an Arabian Tale or The History of the Caliph Vathek) is a Gothic novel written by William Beckford. It was composed in French beginning in

‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، نامِ <واثق> در مغرب زمین و بخصوص در انگلستان، نامی شناخته شده است، زیرا زندگیِ افسانه آمیز او موضوع این کتاب است که یکی از موفق ترین اثار ادبیات انگلیس است که توسط < ویلیام بکفورد> نویسنده و شاعرِ انگلیسی در قرنِ هجدهم میلادی نوشته شد که بزرگان دیگر جهان ادب، همچون: لرد بایرن، کیتس

Postmodernism has nothing on Vathek. An absolutely bizarre Gothic tale, rich in Orientalism and deviltry. You may think that the modern era has corned the market in strange, difficult texts, but there is truly nothing new under the sun. Vathek is stranger than strange.

This is an 18th century Gothic novel written by an English author, but written in the French language. It's about an Arabian sultan who makes a deal with the devil, which almost never ends well. That's an odd mix of tags, but this is an odd story. It reminds me a bit of Castle Otranto, but more viol

An odd book, and not a completely successful one. I cannot deny it a wealth of ironic observation and an elegant style, but I believe the author indulges his hobbies and obsessions--his Orientalism, his ephebophilia, his loathing of his mother and other termagants--to an extent that distorts this ta

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