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Beatrice Cenci


Irene Musillo Mitchell

Roman noblewoman Beatrice Cenci (1577-99), associated in history and literature with the crimes of parricide and incest, was a victim of corrupt late Renaissance Rome and an infamous father. This absorbing narrative set in sixteenth-century Rome recounts the turbulent vicissitudes of her wealthy family and her own ill-fated destiny, thrusting her into imprisonment in a castle, illicit love, incest or alleged incest, and murder. Featured are the grim procedures of the Roman court and the nine-month trial of the Cenci - one of the most celebrated trials of the period, with a famous defense based on the charge of incest. Painters, musicians, film directors, and writers from Shelley and Stendhal to Melville and Hawthorne were inspired by Beatrice's tragic story, uncannily relevant to our time. Her victimization, efforts to free herself, and revenge make up a scenario repeated through the centuries.