Beckford’s Gothic novel, Vathek, an Arabian tale, was originally written in French when the author was 21. It is the story of Caliph Vathek, whose eye can kill at a glance, who makes a pact with the Devil, Eblis.
But why is it classified as Gothic literature?
The literary genre called Gothic draws its name from two things: The period between the sacking of Rome by the Visigoths (410 CE) and the renaissance (approx. 14th century), was in the 18th century considered to be a dark, barbarous period whose sole redeeming feature was the concept of chivalry. Vathek is set somewhere between 840 and 850. The second would be the architectural style referred to (erroneously) as Gothic. Vathek is not set in Europe and thus does not contain this specific style, but the focus on grand architecture is still present. The genre has a strong focus on the supernatural, which Vathek has in abundance. Other lesser elements such as the weakness of clergy and strong distinctions between innocence and malice are also present. Review by Arnstein Pettersen (2015)
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