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The History of the Caliph Vathek
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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 1782, and then translated into English by Reverend Samuel Henley in which form it was first published in 1786 without Beckford's name as An Arabian Tale, From an Unpublished Manuscript, claiming to be translated directly from Arabic. The first French edition, titled simply as Vathek, was published in December 1786. Vathek capitalised on the 18th -and early 19th- century obsession with all things Oriental, which was inspired by Antoine Galland's translation of The Arabian Nights. Beckford was also influenced by similar works from the French writer Voltaire. His originality lay in combining the popular Oriental elements with the Gothic stylings of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto -1764-. The result stands alongside Walpole's novel and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein -1818- in the first rank of early Gothic fiction.
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