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‘Vathek’ was written by the English novelist, art collector, politician and travel writer William Beckford (1 October 1760 – 2 May 1844) in 1782. Composed by Beckford in French, it was translated into English and first published as ‘An Arabian Tale, From an Unpublished Manuscript’, in 1786. Published without Beckford name as the author, the gothic novel claimed to have been translated from an original Arabic manuscript. The novel centers on the reign of the Caliph Vathek whose quest for supernatural powers leads to his fall from power. Beckford capitalized on the popular 18th century interest in ‘Orientalism’ an interest in Eastern cultures, which led to popular reproductions in western architecture and art.


William Beckford. Vathek. 1787

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