Valperga, Or, the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca

Valperga, Or, the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca

Valperga, Or, the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca

Valperga, Or, the Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca

Synopsis

Valperga (1823), the novel Mary Shelley wrote after Frankenstein, is based on the life of Castruccio Castracani (1281-1328), Prince of Lucca. A brilliant soldier and cruel tyrant, he successfully commanded Ghibelline forces in Tuscany against the Guelphs. Woven into the story of this factional conflict are the tragic destinies of two heroines, fictional creations of the author. Ethanasia, Countess of Valperga, finds herself increasingly torn between loyalty to her Guelph roots and her lifelong affection for Castruccio. Beatrice, whom the author's father, William Godwin, described as 'the jewel of the book', is a heretical Paterin with whom Castruccio falls in love only to abandon. This meticulously researched historical novel combines a narrative of suspense with a remarkable reconstruction of manners in the Middle Ages. Set in the period of Dante's lifetime, it is also suffused with a poetic spirit which evokes the beauties of Italy's physical environment and points to the melancholy inevitability of change. This edition provides a clear account of the circumstances in which Valperga was composed and published.

Excerpt

Women Writers in English 1350-1850 presents texts of cultural and literary interest in the English-speaking tradition, often for the first time since their original publication. Most of the writers represented in the series were well known and highly regarded until the professionalization of English studies in the later nineteenth century coincided with their excision from canonical status and from the majority of literary histories.

The purpose of this series is to make available a wide range of unfamiliar texts by women, thus challenging the common assumption that women wrote little of real value before the Victorian period. While no one can doubt the relative difficulty women experienced in writing for an audience before that time, or indeed have encountered since, this series shows that women nonetheless had been writing from early on and in a variety of genres, that they maintained a clear eye to readers, and that they experimented with an interesting array of literary strategies for claiming their authorial voices. Despite the tendency to treat the powerful fictions ofVirginia Woolf A Room of One's Own (1928) as if they were fact, we now know, against her suggestion to the contrary, that there were many "Judith Shakespeares" and that not all of them died lamentable deaths before fulfilling their literary ambitions.

This series offers, for the first time, concrete evidence of a rich and lively heritage of women writing in English before the mid-nineteenth century. It grew out of one of the world's most sophisticated and forwardlooking electronic resources, the Brown University Women Writers Project (WWP), with the earliest volumes of the series derived directly from the WWP textbase. The WWP, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, continues to recover and encode for a wide range of purposes complete texts of early women writers, and maintains a cordial relationship with Oxford University Press as this series continues independently.

Women Writers in English 1350-1850 offers lightly annotated versions of texts based on single good copies or, in some cases, collated versions of texts with more complex editorial histories, normally in their original . . .

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