Valperga, or, The Life and Adventures of Castruccio, Prince of Lucca / Edition 1
Valperga, published in 1823 and reprinted here for the first time, was Mary Shelley's second novel, the successor to Frankenstein. Set in fourteenth-century Tuscany, the novel shares certain structural features with the popular fictions of Sir Walter Scott, most notably the novel Ivanhoe with its contrasting heroines, but Mary Shelley's work pointedly challenges Scott's model, inverting his masculinist and conservative outlook, foregrounding the lives of its principal women, Euthanasia dei Adimari and Beatrice of Ferrara, and attaching to the figure of Castruccio Castracani, Prince of Lucca, a retrograde authoritarianism and sterile lust for power. Valperga, steeped in Mary Shelley's command of local Italian history and culture, offers the vivid pleasures of accomplished historical fiction while at the same time representing in the clash between Castruccio and Euthanasia a struggle between autocracy and liberal democracy that speaks directly to the contemporary political tensions of post-Napoleonic Europe. Timed for Mary Shelley's bicentennial and superbly introduced by Stuart Curran, this exciting new edition makes available a bold yet little-known work by one of the finest minds in English letters.