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The Cenci. The Cenci.
The Cenci.
SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe.

The Cenci....

A Tragedy, in Five Acts.

Availability: In stock

Published: [Livorno,] Italy for C. and J. Ollier, London, 1819

Stock Code: 108029

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition, one of 250 copies printed; scarce in commerce, with the second, London edition (the only second edition of his own Shelley lived to see) more usually encountered. Shelley's verse tragedy proved an unexpected sensation on publication despite its action being far too lurid for the London stage. He been fascinated by the story of Beatrice Cenci and Guido's portrait of her in the Colunna palace at Rome, and originally intended the latter to be copied as a frontispiece for this book. He worked exceptionally fast on his version of the tragedy, starting in May and ending in August of his annus mirabilis, the same year he wrote Prometheus Unbound, The Masque of Anarchy, and the "Ode to the West Wind". The book is excellently produced, handsomely printed on thick laid paper: "It has a few errors of the press incidental to the Italian compositors' ignorance of English... but on the whole it seems to me a preferable text to the second edition - a text more like the absolute production of Shelley" (Forman).

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Small quarto (225 x 145 mm). Late 19th-century red-brown full morocco by Ramage, raised bands tooled in gilt to spine forming compartments, second and third gilt-lettered direct between double rules gilt, remaining compartments triple-ruled in gilt, "Italy 1819" tooled to foot in gilt, broad seven-fillet border to covers gilt, top edge gilt, others untrimmed, floral roll to turn-ins gilt, marbled endpapers.


Armorial bookplate of Joseph Turner to front pastedown. Light rubbing to corners, joints and headcaps, very faint foxing towards top edge of title-page, p. 102 and binder's blanks, light marginal tanning to pp. 29-33, small spill-burn to p. 9 partially obscuring one letter, otherwise the very occasional spot chiefly restricted to margins. These flaws minor: an excellent, notably wide-margined copy in a fine Victorian binding.


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