1862 · Boston
by Stowe, Harriet Beecher
Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1862. 8vo. 195 x 120 mm. (7 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches). 412 pp., plus 16 pp. ads dated May 1862. Original patterned cloth, embossed covers, title and author's name gilt on spine; very good copy.
First edition. Stowe's novel of Italy during the Renaissance was published a decade after her most important book Uncle Tom's Cabin which appeared in 1851. Set in Sorrento and Rome during the reign of the Borgia Pope Alexandre VI, Stowe writes of a pure and innocent Agnes, her devotion to Catholicism, and hope of become a nun. The novel juxtaposes the corrupt ecclesiasticism of Rome and the purity of refined Christianity, characterized by the prophet of Ferrara, Savonarola. Stowe's narrative includes numerous observations, taken while visiting both cities in 1859/60 and incorporates these contemporary details into the novel. She portrays the societies of Northern and Southern Italy and depicts the difference in class and the brutality of peasant life especially for young women. In many respects this is a novel about women in a patriarchal society and their struggles to live a life that is both meaningful and satisfying. Young Agnes, abandoned by her aristocratic father, seeks divine guidance from the Borgia Pope, only to experience the cruelty of this corrupt regime before being saved by Christian truths of Savonarola and a prince of hearts who returns her to her rightful place in society.
Brooks, The Dream of Arcadia pp. 122. Vance, America's Rome, pp. 22-24. (138). (Inventory #: 138)