Uniform TitleThe trial of Giuseppe Baretti, October 20th 1769:
a literary and cultural history of the Baretti case
NameRusnak, Matthew Francis (author), Sanguineti-White, Laura (chair), Marsh, David (internal member), Baldi, Andrea (internal member), Bell, Rudolph (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Baretti, Giuseppe Marco Antonio, 1719-1789
DescriptionOn October 20, 1769, Giuseppe Baretti (1719-1789) stood on trial at the Old Bailey for a murder that occurred during a street brawl in central London. Samuel Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, David Garrick and other English luminaries spoke in Baretti's defense, and he was acquitted se defendendo. As news of the crime spread from London to Milan, the Baretti case generated controversy, public opinion, and critical commentary. Usually regarded merely as a curious footnote in the annals of literature, this case provides insight into the life and works of Baretti as well as the Age of Blackstone and Beccaria. A careful reconstruction of the crime scene, teased out of primary documents and unpublished manuscripts, reveals an event rich in cultural significance. A complex set of motivations can be seen behind the stabbing of Evan Morgan, an assault viewed at the time as manifestly Italian. Chapter Two analyzes the defense arguments in unlocking subtle rhetorical and legal strategies and locating it within a courtroom theater. Chapter Three focuses on C. F. Badini, Baretti's arch rival, who "testified" against him in libel and invective. Chapter Four explores the back-story: over a year before the trial, Samuel Sharp, a London surgeon who had written on the Italian national identity in Letters from Italy, provoked an extended print feud with Baretti. Ironically, a central point of disagreement between the writers concerned the relative violent tendencies of Italians, the use of stilettos instead of fists to resolve petty disputes. Chapter Five places the case in context of homicide law and legal debates in the period that seem to be speaking directly Baretti. Chapter Six records and explores the literary repercussions of the "The Haymarket Affair" in controversies that persisted through the 1780s. The Conclusion shows how later critics and scholars manipulated and repackaged the event, eventually flattening it and removing its ambiguities. The purpose of the study is not to defame Giuseppe Baretti, but rather to uncover the far-reaching cultural and literary implications of a day that would haunt the Italian writer for the rest of his English life.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 358-382).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.