Vathek 1786 title page.jpg
Title page of the 1786 edition. A reader has handwritten Beckford's name under the title.
AuthorWilliam Beckford
TranslatorReverend Samuel Henley
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreGothic novel
PublisherJ. Johnson (English)
Publication date
1786 (English), 1787 (French)
Media typePrint (hardback)

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Samuel Henley[1] in which form it was first published in 1786 without Beckford's name as An Arabian Tale, From an Unpublished Manuscript, claiming to be translated directly from Arabic.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 first French edition, titled simply as Vathek, was published in December 1786 (postdated 1787).[2] In the twentieth century some editions include The Episodes of Vathek (Vathek et ses épisodes), three related tales intended by Beckford to be so incorporated, but omitted from the original edition and published separately long after his death.[3]

Plot introduction

Vathek capitalised on the eighteenth- (and early nineteenth-) century obsession with all things Oriental (see Orientalism), which was inspired by Antoine Galland's translation of The Arabian Nights (itself retranslated, into English, in 1708). Beckford was also influenced by similar works from the French writer Voltaire. His originality lay in combining the popular Oriental elements with the Gothic stylings of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764). The result stands alongside Walpole's novel and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) in the first rank of early Gothic fiction.

Other Languages
Deutsch: Vathek
español: Vathek
français: Vathek
русский: Ватек
svenska: Vathek