BECCARIA, Cesare, marchese di. Dmitri YAZYKOV, translator. ~ Razsuzhdenīe o prestuplenīi︠a︡kh i nakazanīi︠a︡kh... [Dei Delittie e delle Pene / On Crimes and Punishments in Russian]. St. Petersburg: Gubernskom Pravlenīi, 1803.
8vo (204 × 116 mm), pp. XLIV, 268. Very light browning to a few early leaves. Contemporary marbled tree calf, spine in compartments between triple rules, urn tools, red morocco label lettered with the author’s name in Russian. Slightly rubbed, upper cover very slightly bowed. Nineteenth-century private stamp ‘Otrada’ [i.e. Joy] to upper forecorner of title, printed shelf label completed in manuscript to front pastedown. A few old pencil notes to front pastedown and markings (also pencil) to the text. An excellent copy.
First edition in Russian of Beccaria’s Dei Delittie e delle Pene (1764) translated from the French version of Morellot. In his fundamental Enlightenment legal treatise Beccaria opposed the death penalty and ‘maintained that the gravity of the crime should be measured by its injury to society and that the penalty should be related to this’ (Printing and the Mind of Man). It was enthusiastically read (in French) by Catherine the Great while codifying her own celebrated legal manifesto, Nakaz, in which almost a third of the text came directly from Beccaria, alongside major borrowings from Montesquieu’s L’Ésprit des lois. Given Catherine’s intellectual omnipotence it is perhaps unsurprising that no Russian edition of Dei Delittie e delle Pene itself appeared during her reign, even though its spirit imbued her widely disseminated Nakaz — required reading for anyone involved in Russian law and government. Thus Beccaria’s principles came to serve as ideals for future legislators in Russia and were fully incorporated into Russian criminal law by the end of the nineteenth century. The title of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (Prestupléniye i nakazániye, 1866) is only the most prominent emblem of Beccaria’s influence in Russia.
‘The first [Russian] translation of Beccaria came out in 1803. It was done by the poet D. Yazykov from the French translation by Morellet, edited by Roederer in 1797... the translation is one of the best in Russian. It manages to convey not only the ideas of the treatise but also the spirit, the language of Beccaria and his contemporaries. It is dedicated to Alexander I...’ (Cizova).
Dmitry Ivanovich Yazykov (1773-1845), writer, translator, academician and director of the Ministry of Public Education later published a translation of Montesquieu’s Esprit des Lois in 1809–14. Cf. Printing and the Mind of Man 209. Rare: Worldcat lists only the NYPL and Yale copies in anglophone countries. T. Cizova, ‘Beccaria in Russia.’ Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 40, No. 95 (Jun. 1962), pp. 384-408.