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An essay on Crimes and Punishments.Translated from the Italian, with a Commentary attributed to Mons. De Voltaire, Translated from the French.
Dublin, John Exshaw, 1767. 8vo. In a contemporary full calf binding with five raised bands and gilt red leather title-label to spine. Author's name written in contemporary hand to title-page. Light wear to extremities, otherwise a fine copy. XIV, 133, (1), LX pp.. First translation, published in the same year as the first edition of the translation (London), of Beccaria's magnum opus, perhaps the most important and influential work in the entire history of criminology, which singlehandedly transformed the Western world's penal system (from a cruel, arbitrary and essentially Medieval system to the equalitarian and humane approach of the Enlightenment). Beccaria argued that the gravity of the crime should be measured by its injury to society and that the penalties should relate to this. The English edition is translated by Voltaire from the French edition, which was translated from the original Italian (Dei delitti e delle pene); The English translation contains for the first time Voltaire's commentary, which shortly after was translated into Italian and published by Coltellini in the 1769 Livorno-edition (Indicated falsely as published in Lausanne)."The success of Beccaria's book was immediate, six editions being published within eighteen months, and it was eventually translated into twenty-two languages. Its principles have been incorporated into the criminal practice of all civilized countries. [...] These ideas have now become so commonplace that it is difficult to appreciate their revolutionary impact at the time." (PMM 209).The present English translation exercised direct influence upon the creation of the American constitution: "[The present edition], was widely circulated in the colonies. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington all read it. Beccaria's essay told them that criminals were not wicked by nature and that they, like everyone else, possessed free will. Criminals, the essay said, were free to obey the law or not, as they chose." (Fridell, Capital Punishment, p. 88). Jefferson and many other early republican lawmakers endorsed the proportionality advocated by Beccaria. South Carolina's constitution states that "the penal laws, as heretofore used, shall be reformed, and punishments made in some cases less sanguinary, and in general more proportionate to the crime" which was a consequence of Beccaria's doctrines. In "Commonplace Book," Thomas Jefferson copied a passage from Beccaria related to the issue of gun control: "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms [...] disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes [...] Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."Beccaria was not only revolutionary in his abandonment of torture, he also argued - against the Catholic Church - not to make a crime of suicide: "Suicide is a crime which seems not to admit of punishment, properly speaking; for it cannot be inflicted but on the innocent, or upon an insensible dead body. In the first case, it is unjust and tyrannical, for political liberty supposes all punishments entirely personal". Futhermore he "opposed capital punishment, which should be replaced by life imprisonment; crimes against property should be in the first place punished by fines, political crimes by banishment; and the conditions in prisons should be radically improved." (PMM 209).Beccaria also did extensive research within economics and is often mentioned as the Italian Adam Smith. The present work has, however, completely overshadowed his other research fields and today he is known as the father of criminology and as being the person who took the Western penal system into the modern era
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Last Found On: 2014-02-04           Check availability:      Antikvariat    


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