The Castle of Otranto
by Horace Walpole
Guardian 1000 Novels
So this book was considered scary at one point, I guess? People in the 1700's must have had wicked imaginations.
And allowing that, many, many years ago, in his early and reckless youth, he had committed some one wrong act,--or that, even now, the inevitable force of circumstances should occasionally make him do one questionable deed among a thousand praiseworthy, or, at least, blameless ones,--would you characterize the Judge by that one necessary deed, and that half-forgotten act, and let it overshadow the fair aspect of a lifetime? What is there so ponderous in evil, that a thumb's bigness of it should outweigh the mass of things not evil which were heaped into the other scale!The main theme of the novel as described by Hawthorne in the introduction is about sins of the past being visited on present generations. This takes added weight when you realize that one of his ancestors was a judge who presided over the Salem Witch Trials. Perhaps Hawthorne himself feared paying the price for his great-great-grandfather's sins?
So the Brangwens came and went without fear of necessity, working hard because of the life that was in them, not for want of the money. Neither were they thriftless. They were aware of the last halfpenny, and instinct made them not waste the peeling of their apple, for it would help to feed the cattle. But heaven and earth was teeming around them, and how should this cease? They felt the rush of the sap in spring, they knew the wave which cannot halt, but every year throws forward the seed to begetting, and, falling back, leaves the young-born on the earth. They knew the intercourse between heaven and earth, sunshine drawn into the breast and bowels, the rain sucked up in the daytime, nakedness that comes under the wind in autumn, showing the birds' nests no longer worth hiding. Their life and interrelations were such; feeling the pulse and body of the soil, that opened to their furrow for the grain, and became smooth and supple after their ploughing, and clung to their feet with a weight that pulled like desire, lying hard and unresponsive when the crops were to be shorn away. The young corn waved and was silken, and the lustre slid along the limbs of the men who saw it. They took the udder of the cows, the cows yielded milk and pulse against the hands of the men, the pulse of the blood of the teats of the cows beat into the pulse of the hands of the men. They mounted their horses, and held life between the grip of their knees, they harnessed their horses at the wagon, and, with hand on the bridle-rings, drew the heaving of the horses after their will.This is one of the very first paragraphs in the novel. It's rich with sensual imagery, words like seed, intercourse, nakedness, supple, desire. Lawrence's characters decry the limits of the English language even while Lawrence himself is trying to transcend those limits.