The Castle of Otranto
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THE following work was found in the library of an ancient Catholic
family in the north of England. It was printed at Naples, in the
black letter, in the year 1529. How much sooner it was written does
not appear. The principal incidents are such as were believed in the
darkest ages of Christianity; but the language and conduct have
nothing that savours of barbarism. The style is the purest Italian.
If the story was written near the time when it is supposed to have
happened, it must have been between 1095, the era of the first
Crusade, and 1243, the date of the last, or not long afterwards.
There is no other circumstance in the work that can lead us to guess
at the period in which the scene is laid: the names of the actors are
evidently fictitious, and probably disguised on purpose: yet the
Spanish names of the domestics seem to indicate that this work was not
composed until the establishment of the Arragonian Kings in Naples had
made Spanish appellations familiar in that country. The beauty of the
diction, and the zeal of the author (moderated, however, by singular
judgment) concur to make me think that the date of the composition was
little antecedent to that of the impression. Letters were then in
their most flourishing state in Italy, and contributed to dispel the
empire of superstition, at that time so forcibly attacked by the