Your Daily NEL: New English Library

Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

William Beckford – Vathek

Posted by demonik on June 12, 2009

William Beckford – Vathek (Four Square/ NEL, 1966)

Josh Kirby

Josh Kirby

Originally published in 1786. The Capith Vathek, whose evil eye is so lethal he can mutilate or even kill a man just by glaring at him, leads his men on a subterranean Black Pilgrimage to the Hall of Eblis at the earth’s core, where he hopes to meet his hero and the one entity who can satisfy his every cruel and terrible lust (essentially, Satan).  Beckford’s Oriental slant and taste for the exotic marks him out as a Clark Ashton Smith (or, at least, Frank Owen) of the early Gothic novel, while the sheer horror of the climax – which sees Vathek as completely damned as any character in the history horror fiction; Prayers On Fire! – makes this short novel as memorable in it’s way as M. G. Lewis’s more traditionally shocking The Monk.

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