The Champion of Virtue, now known with the later title of The Old English Baron (1777), is a chivalric tale (= racconto cavalleresco) with gothic elements, written by Clara Reeve (1729–1807). Ms Reeve herself admitted that it was written in imitation of, or rivalry with (= in contrapposizione) , the
by Horace Walpole. but was also influenced by Leland’s Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, and by Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa. It was dedicated to Mrs. Brigden, Castle of Otranto ’s daughter, who revised (= revisionò) it under its first title, The Champion of Virtue. The novel influenced Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
In the preface C. Reeve wrote (1778)
“This Story is the literary offspring (= inizio) of the Castle of Otranto, written upon the same plan, with a design to unite the most attractive and interesting circumstances of the ancient Romance and modern Novel, at the same time it assumes a character and manner of its own, that differs from both; it is distinguished by the appellation (= appellativo) of a Gothic Story, being a picture of Gothic times and manners.”
She used a more limited view of the supernatural inventions employed (= impiegate) by Horace Walpole. She criticized The Castle of Otranto for the extravagance: the gigantic sword and helmet, the violent fictions of a walking picture, and of ghosts. For Ms Reeve a ghost should behave (= comportarsi) more soberly (=sobriamente) .
The story tell about Sir Philip Harclay who returns to England after a long absence, and finds that his childhood friend, Arthur, Lord Lovel, is no longer alive, and that the castle and estates (= possedimenti terrieri) of the Lovel family have twice (= due volte) changed hands. But a mysteriously abandoned set of rooms (= gruppo di stanze) in the castle promises to disclose the secrets of the past. After a series of frenetic episodes and surprising revelations, culminating in a trial by combat (=processo per combattimento) , the crimes of the usurper and the legitimacy of the true heir are finally discovered