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The Old English Baron: a Gothic Story

Clara Reeve

Book Overview: 

The story follows the adventures of Sir Philip Harclay, who returns to medieval England to find that the castle seat and estate of his friend Lord Lovel have been usurped. A series of revelations, horrors and betrayals climax in a scene of single combat in which good battles evil for the return of the prize. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . exclamations; she said, that her dear lord was basely murdered; that his ghost had appeared to her, and revealed his fate. She called upon Heaven and earth to revenge her wrongs; saying, she would never cease complaining to God, and the King, for vengeance and justice.

"Upon this, Sir Walter told the servants that Lady Lovel was distracted, from grief for the death of her Lord; that his regard for her was as strong as ever; and that, if she recovered, he would himself be her comforter, and marry her. In the mean time she was confined in this very apartment, and in less than a month the poor Lady died. She lies buried in the family vault in St. Austin's church in the village. Sir Walter took possession of the castle, and all the other estates, and assumed the title of Lord Lovel.

"Soon after, it was reported that the castle was haunted, and that the ghosts of Lord and Lady Lovel had been seen by several of the servants. Whoever went into this apartm. . . Read More

Community Reviews

First published in 1777, this was an ambitious re-write of Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. Since I've read Walpole's gothic novel, I was curious to know what the re-write has to offer. And to be honest, despite the negative reviews, I liked The Old English Baron much more than I did The Castle of O

The Old English Baron is a novel written in 1777 by Clara Reeve. Our story begins with Sir Philip Harclay, he has just returned to England after many years abroad. In his youth, Sir Philip had developed a life-long friendship for the Lord Lovel, military duties had separated them and Sir Philip had

Rather a slog, leavened in parts by absurd plotting and delightfully overblown archaic manners. The final third was unrelentingly dull, and it squandered whatever virtue it had earlier achieved.

In the preface Clara Reeve sets out her intention of recreating the gothic saga of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, minus that book's more extravagant, over-the-top and unintentionally hilarious elements.

Much of the book is okay, but it never rises beyond that, and the agonisingly tedious, p

A work of Gothic Literature, this novel was inspired directly from Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto". Clara Reeve wanted to create a work of Gothic Literature much more realistic. While Walpole's novel dealt with an armored giant and fantastic ghostly events, Reeve's novel focused on the rela

It is commonly accepted that his first gothic novel it's the The Castle of Otranto , after reading, however, this book I now have the impression that this is the first REAL gothic novel, a book that has all the elements which will dominate over the next few decades in gothic literature. The story is

Not appreciating the pre-camp sensibility of "Otranto," Reeve toned down the supernatural element in the gothic in order to fashion a fiction less baroque and ridiculous than Walpole's. She succeeded, but produced something far inferior: a gothic narrative so staid and so filled with courteous, well

A riposte to Otranto, in much the same way as Radcliffe's 'The Italian' was a riposte to Lewis' 'The Monk'. Not very good; the plot is entirely predictable and there is no real sense of danger to the virtuous hero and his allies. The best bit of writing here is the preface where Reeve craves the rea

"A ghost," sniffs Clara Reeve, "must keep within certain limits of credibility."

She's complaining about The Castle of Otranto (1764), the original Gothic novel. Giant death helmets and moving paintings, she argues, "instead of attention, excite laughter." Which is true, and Castle of Otranto is sil

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