The History of the Caliph Vathek
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 9781722398460, 58pp.
Publication Date: July 5, 2018
Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback, Italian (10/19/2017)
Paperback, French (10/11/2018)
Paperback, Italian (4/3/2018)
Paperback, German (4/5/2018)
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Vathek - The History of the Caliph Vathek: A Gothic novel by William Beckford. 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Reverend Samuel Henley in which form it was first published in 1786 without Beckford's name as An Arabian Tale, From an Unpublished Manuscript, claiming to be translated directly from Arabic.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 novel chronicles the fall from power of the Caliph Vathek, who renounces Islam and engages with his mother, Carathis, in a series of licentious and deplorable activities designed to gain him supernatural powers. At the end of the novel, instead of attaining these powers, Vathek descends into a hell ruled by the demon Eblis where he is doomed to wander endlessly and speechlessly. Vathek, the ninth caliph of the Abassides, ascended to the throne at an early age. He is a majestic figure, terrible in anger (one glance of his flashing eye can make "the wretch on whom it was fixed instantly fall] backwards and sometimes expire]"), and addicted to the pleasures of the flesh. He is intensely thirsty for knowledge and often invites scholars to converse with him. If he fails to convince the scholar of his points of view, he attempts a bribe; if this does not work, he sends the scholar to prison. To better study astronomy, he builds an observation tower with 11,000 steps.