Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hieroglyphic Tales

Hieroglyphic Tales, by Horace Walpole

In my copy of The Castle of Otranto, there is also a collection of little stories called Hieroglyphic Tales that I had never gotten around to reading.  I assumed that they were ghost stories or something similar, and I was completely wrong!  These are funny, surreal, weird stories that are narrated kind of like fairy tales, but they are also satires featuring well-known people of Walpole's day.

Here is a bit of "The King and His Three Daughters:"
There was formerly a king, who had three daughters--that is, he would have had three, if he had had one more, but some how or other the eldest never was born. She was extremely handsome, had a great deal of wit, and spoke French in perfection, as all the authors of that age affirm, and yet none of them pretend that she ever existed. It is very certain that the two other princesses were far from beauties; the second had a strong Yorkshire dialect, and the youngest had bad teeth and but one leg, which occasioned her dancing very ill.
...While the nation was in this distracted situation, there arrived the prince of Quifferiquimini, who would have been the most accomplished hero of the age, if he had not been dead, and had spoken any language but the Egyptian, and had not had three legs. Notwithstanding these blemishes, the eyes of the whole nation were immediately turned upon him, and each party wished to see him married to the princess whose cause they espoused.
 You can read them online here, if you're interested.  Walpole must have been a very interesting person to visit, between his amazing house and his wild stories.

Walpole in his library---I could live here!


1 comment:

Ao Bibliophile said...

hi Jean! thank you for pointing this out and for the link. i found two other sources where one can download them for free:

Book Depository (pdf)
http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Hieroglyphic-Tales-Dodo-Press-Horace-Walpole/9781406560015

ManyBooks.net (multiple formats)
http://manybooks.net/titles/walpolehora1409814098.html