A strange Gothic novel in which a haughty, effeminate caliph who is persuaded by his mother (a sorceress) and his own egotism to offer allegiance to the Devil in the hope of further gain of another throne. But this is a place of torture and he must remain there forever.
Vathek (1786), originally written in French, remains one of the strangest eighteenth-century novels and one of the most difficult to classify. Perverse and grotesque comedy alternates with scenes of 'oriental' magnificence and evocative beauty in the story of the ruthless Caliph Vathek's journey to superb damnation among the subterranean treasures of Eblis. Underlying the elegant prose is a strong element of self-indulgent personal fantasy on the part of Beckford, youthful millionaire, dreamer, and eventually social outcast. Byron, Poe, Mallarme, and Swinburne are some of the literary figures who have admired Vathek's imaginative power. The text follows that of the 'Third Edition' of 1816, in which Beckford extensively revised and corrected Samuel Henley's original English translations from the French. The elaborate notes retained by Beckford in 1816 are also included. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.