On Crimes and Punishments and Other Writings

Cesare Beccaria
Edited by Aaron Thomas
Translated by Aaron Thomas and Jeremy Parzen
Foreword by Bryan Stevenson
Introduction by Alberto Burgio

© 2006

Published in 1764, On Crimes and Punishments by Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) courted both success and controversy in Europe and North America. Enlightenment luminaries and enlightened monarchs alike lauded the text and looked to it for ideas that might help guide the various reform projects of the day. The equality of every citizen before the law, the right to a fair trial, the abolition of the death penalty, the elimination of the use of torture in criminal interrogations—these are but a few of the vital arguments articulated by Beccaria.

This volume offers a new English translation of On Crimes and Punishment alongside writings by a number of Beccaria's contemporaries. Of particular interest is Voltaire's commentary on the text, which is included in its entirety. The supplementary materials testify not only to the power and significance of Beccaria's ideas, but to the controversial reception of his book. At the same time that philosophes proclaimed that it contained principles of enduring importance to any society grappling with matters of political and criminal justice, allies of the ancien régime roundly denounced it, fearing that the book's attack on feudal privileges and its call to separate law from religion (and thus crime from sin) would undermine their longstanding privileges and powers.

Long appreciated as a foundational text in criminology, Beccaria's arguments have become central in debates over capital punishment. This new edition presents Beccaria's On Crimes and Punishments as an important and influential work of Enlightenment political theory.

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Product Details

  • Series: Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.6in x 9.1in
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Long appreciated as a foundational text in criminology, Beccaria’s arguments have become central in debates over capital punishment. This new edition presents Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishments as an important and influential work of Enlightenment political theory.

On Crimes and Punishments and Other Writings

Cesare Beccaria
Edited by Aaron Thomas
Translated by Aaron Thomas and Jeremy Parzen
Foreword by Bryan Stevenson
Introduction by Alberto Burgio

© 2006

Published in 1764, On Crimes and Punishments by Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) courted both success and controversy in Europe and North America. Enlightenment luminaries and enlightened monarchs alike lauded the text and looked to it for ideas that might help guide the various reform projects of the day. The equality of every citizen before the law, the right to a fair trial, the abolition of the death penalty, the elimination of the use of torture in criminal interrogations—these are but a few of the vital arguments articulated by Beccaria.

This volume offers a new English translation of On Crimes and Punishment alongside writings by a number of Beccaria's contemporaries. Of particular interest is Voltaire's commentary on the text, which is included in its entirety. The supplementary materials testify not only to the power and significance of Beccaria's ideas, but to the controversial reception of his book. At the same time that philosophes proclaimed that it contained principles of enduring importance to any society grappling with matters of political and criminal justice, allies of the ancien régime roundly denounced it, fearing that the book's attack on feudal privileges and its call to separate law from religion (and thus crime from sin) would undermine their longstanding privileges and powers.

Long appreciated as a foundational text in criminology, Beccaria's arguments have become central in debates over capital punishment. This new edition presents Beccaria's On Crimes and Punishments as an important and influential work of Enlightenment political theory.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.6in x 9.1in
  • Author Information

    Cesare Beccaria (1738-1764) was a phiosopher and politician best known for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments. In 1768, Beccaria was appointed to the chair law and economy, a position founded expressly for him, at the Palatine college of Milan.



    Jeremy Parzen earned his Ph.D. in Italian Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an independent scholar living in New York City.



    Aaron Thomas is a doctoral candidate specializing in Political Theory and Italian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Foreword by Bryan Stevenson

    Preface by Aaron Thomas

    Introduction: Between Law and Politics - The Idea of Equality in On Crimes and Punishments by Alberto Burgio

    PART I On Crimes and Punishments

    PART II Contemporary Reactions to On Crimes and Punishments


    Ferdinando Facchinei, from Notes and Observations on the Book Entitled 'On Crimes and Punishments' (1765)

    Pietro and Alessandro Verri, from Response to a Writing Entitled 'Notes and Observations on the Book "On Crimes and Punishments"' (1765)

    Voltaire, Commentary on the Book On Crimes and Punishments, by a Provincial Lawyer (1766)

    PART III Revisiting the Death Penalty

    Opinion of the Undersigned Members of the Committee Charged with the Reform of the Criminal System in Austriam Lombardy for Matters Pertaining to Capital Punishment

By the Same Author(s)