[Reading] ➸ Vathek By William Beckford – Dolove.info
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 were seven folio society book from the late 1950s and early 1960s, which I have kept sending the others back to auction This was one of the folio society books.I knew little about Vathek or William Beckford before this It has been classified as a Gothic novel and was written in the 1780s Byron cited it as a source and Keats certainly was influenced by Beckford s descriptions of the underworld Lovecraft and Poe were also influenced as have been other writers in the fantasy genre There is a touch of the Arabian Nights about this and it is set somewhere in the Middle East It concerns wealthy potentate Caliph Vathek and his exceptionally cruel and evil mother Carathis Vathek is fabulously wealthy, has lots of eunuchs, lots of wives, loves the pleasures of the flesh, has built a Babel like tower and is also thirsty for knowledge The story is based around Islam and involves genies, djinn and even The Prophet putting in his views from heaven Vathek desires wealth and power and that is where the fun begins We have mysterious strangers, lots of acts of cruelty and immorality, magic artifacts and talismans, sacrifice of children , pursuit of glory, feasting, pride and a journey to find treasure and fortune The last twenty pages with the descriptions of hell are quite fun when everyone gets what they deserve These days the story is fairly unremarkable, although there are some unusual flourishes it was originally written in French It is effectively a pact with the devil novel just set in an Islamic context There are also some comic turns The characters are predictable and rather flat and after a time the descriptions of even fabulous wealth, debauchery and cruelty just become boring As a whole it didn t really work for me, but there are also other issues which revolve around Beckford himself.Beckford was wealthy, very wealthy inherited and his income at the time was over 100,000 a year, which was a fabulous amount at the time In later life he was a bit of a recluse and spent way too much money on pointless building projects He wrote Vathek in his early twenties whilst in France The reasons for leaving England are not entirely clear It seems he was conducting an affair with a boy eight years his junior William Courtenay, son of an aristocrat The boy s uncle found out and advertised it in a newspaper Beckford and his wife left the country for a while and he wrote Vathek whilst in France Beckford continued to be noted for eccentricity and there are lots of stories about goings on at his home All this is of little relevance really What is of relevance is the source of his wealth the slave trade and plantations in Jamaica Byron, whilst appreciating Vathek made some rather acerbic comments about Beckford s wealth I am left with a picture of a man wasting large amounts of money of ornate buildings whilst the sources of his wealth suffer thousands of miles away It left a bad taste. Amazing Book, Vathek Author William Beckford This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book Vathek, Essay By William Beckford Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You Vathek, William Beckford, Edited with an introduction by Roger Lonsdale, London Oxford university press, 1970 1349, 187 Pages 1978 1782 Underground palaces Concealed didacticism Homosexual indiscretions 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 violent Just not my cup of tea. I seem to have embarked on a re exploration of the gothic genre After finishing a re read of The Castle Of Otranto by Horace Walpole a couple of days back, Last night I finished Vathek by William Beckford, a novel which also stems from the trend for Orientalist fiction which played upon the exoticism of an imagined Arabic setting, largely inspired by translations of The Thousand And One Nights.It s the story of the Caliph Vathek, a sensualist and seeker of knowledge whose quest for novelty leads him into the snares of a diabolical plot Promised the jewels and talismans of the pre Adamic kings, he embarks on an inverted pilgrim s progress with a suitable ending.Vathek was written in a burst of inspiration over the course of roughly three days It shows There are many holes in the plot, which is episodic and frequently seems to lose itself in byways Vathek is depicted as having the power to strike down his foes with a look from one of his eyes when angered yet he never uses this power at any point in this book As mentioned above, he is portrayed as a seeker of knowledge yet, his chief motivations in the course of the novel are greed and lust We are suddenly informed that he has a brother than two thirds of the way through the story At a certain point, as if realising he could meander about forever, Beckford visibly reins in his plot and forces a conclusion.But these cavils are beside the point style is the measure of Beckford s success here, and this novel has style in excess, weaving a sustained cavalcade of visions that must also be the result of its rapid, intense composition The lush, sybaritic Palaces of the Senses, the many depictions of lavish banquets, the darkly comedic scenes of sorcerous doings by Vathek s mother Carathis and her minions, various scenes of Vathek s villainy and blasphemy and finally the portrayal of the devil and hell itself are all rendered with a fine eye for arresting, original detail A vein of dark humour, occasionally tending to farce, runs through the story, giving us permission not take it all much seriously than Beckford seems to have. 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 tale of sensuality, pride and and destruction instead of informing and enriching it The last twenty pages or so, however, that relate Prince Vathek s damnation in the underground realm of the angel Eblis, are powerful and memorable, and very influential on the development of the gothic sensibility in writers as different as Poe and Hawthorne All readers who care about the development of literature should read these last twenty pages, but in my opinion they could just as well skip most of the rest. Caliph Vathek the ruler in fabulous Baghdad, and its extended Empire, the Middle East and AfricaGrandson 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 bother to look him up on Wikipedia Being the 9th century, the Caliph has absolute power, also an evil eye, deadly when angered as a lot of his poor victims discovered much too late Nobody looks at Vathek s fearsome eye, when the Caliph is in a very bad mood, for long and lives Five magnificent palaces he has built for his many amusements, full of exotic, expensive toys A colossal tower to reach the heavens is erected, just for Vathek , so he can study the distant, perplexing stars he needs amusement, the tallest in the world, at great cost to his impoverished and oppressed subjects Most nights looking up at the mysterious dark sky and becomes a capable astronomer, the royal man, while the people below suffer because of the very high taxes Still the Caliph spends money at a tremendous rate, his subjects hate him but keep their tongues quiet, too many have been silenced, butchered not to do otherwise The easily bored, plainly wicked Vathek has a new bright city, Samarah, on the arid desert, established, who would refuse the command Nevertheless his numerous wives fail to make him happy, still things change when a stranger arrives, the man though maybe the ugliest on Earth However he has unknown, enormous, demonic powers The Caliph is given a stupendous saber, with carved words on it which are different every day, by the sinister stranger from India, Giaour infidel Yet they can t be read by the tyrant, the languages are unintelligible , Vathek cruel mother, Princess Carathis practices black magic, has committed worst crimes than her spoiled son, yes that s possible, she is that vicious Trouble begins when they can t locate the eerie Indian At last the stranger, Giaour, appears and tells Caliph Vathek to kill a few of his people, fifty children he survives the riots The Sovereign of the World, will be richly rewarded with unlimited wealth, in the ruins of the mournful city, Istakar, Persepolis destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C Everyone feels relief as the Ruler leaves for the dead, ancient Persian capital , wishing he d never come back Picking up an Emir s willing young daughter, Nouronihar, on the way, is nature demands it As an enchanting moon is shining down on his caravan, an intimidating Genie materializes and strongly advises the evil one, not to go any further when Vathek nears, the unnatural, lonely city, understandably deserted, but to quickly flee The Caliph makes his ominous decisionI ve read a lot of bizarre books, but this is one of the weirdest..oddest and creepiest you ve been warned..