Dei Delitti e delle pene. Edizione sesta di nuovo corretta ed accresciuta.

Harlem, et se vend a Paris, chez Molini, 1766.

8vo, pp. [ii], viii, 9-314, [5], [1 blank]; engraved frontispiece, woodcut head- and tailpieces; clean and fresh throughout, with very occasional contemporary underlining in ink; in contemporary calf, spine gilt in compartments with gilt-lettered morocco label; some light wear, but still an attractive copy, with the bookplate of Sir Edmund Antrobus on front pastedown.


US $949€886

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Sixth edition, expanded to forty-seven paragraphs, of Beccaria’s principal work, one of the founding texts of penology and an important statement of criminal law reform, here with the additions of the ‘Giudizio di celebre professore sopra il livro dei delitti e delle pene’ and ‘Risposta ad uno scritto che s’intitola Note, Osservazioni sul libro dei delitti e delle pene’, along with Beccaria’s own foreword, and a frontispiece depicting Justice shunning a severed head offered by an executioner.

Dei delitti e delle pene saw many editions, including a number of pirates, in the years after its first publication in 1764, and the first few saw it augmented by Beccaria from its original forty paragraphs. The present edition is one of two to appear with a Harlem imprint and ‘edizione sesta’, one bearing the name of the Parisian publisher Molini (Giovan Claudio Molini), with whose brother Beccaria had been staying in London, and whom Beccaria visited in the autumn of 1766. It has been suggested that the present version, with Molini’s name, may in fact be a Livorno-printed pirate (as Govi notes, with this work, even the counterfeits had counterfeits); in any case, the ‘edizione sesta’ appears ‘mechanically to reproduce the ‘fifth’ and have similar characteristics so marked that they appear clearly based on one another’ (Firpo, cited by Santato, 385).

For an exploration of the publishing history, see Guido Santato, ‘La questione attributive del Dei delitti e delle pene’ in Lettere italiane 48 (1996), pp. 360-398; cf. Govi, I classici che hanno fatto l’Italia 249; this edition not in Melzi.

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