Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun

London: Richard Bentley, 1864.

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A memoir participates in Victorian anti-Catholic convent fetish by exposing the violence of forced ministry

(Item #5626) Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun. Erotic Literature, Henrietta Caracciolo.

Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun

London: Richard Bentley, 1864. First English language edition. Contemporary half calf over marbled boards with morocco label to spine. All edges marbled. Marbled endpapers. Measuring 179 x 119mm and collating complete including photographic frontis: x, 374. A square, tight copy with some loss to upper spine label and gentle rubbing to boards. Amorial bookplate to front pastedown. Light scattered foxing largely confined to preliminary and terminal leaves; pages 161-162 partially detached but holding. A female-authored memoir that participates in both anti-Catholicism and convent-fetish eroticism, it is somewhat scarce institutionally but is a rarity in trade with its most recent appearance at auction occurring a century ago. The present is the only example currently on the market.

Frank in her delivery, Henrietta Caracciolo recounts how her rise to young womanhood under the jealous eye of her mother -- combined with the untimely death of a sympathetic father -- led to her unwilling confinement in a Benedictine convent. Denied early opportunities for engaging in the courtship and marriage economy she longs to be a part of, Henrietta Caracciolo instead is forced by her mother to repress her sexual identity and disappear into a life of solitude and chastity. What she finds there instead is a space of sexual abuse, unexplained deaths, illicit affairs, physical abuse, and theft. "My sole aim in writing these Memoirs has been to confirm," she writes in the preface, "as far as lay in my power, with the arguement drawn from fact, the opportune and just decree of the Italian government in the suppression of Convents, and to disabuse the minds of those (if haply any such remain) who deem these places the repositories of religious virtues." Timely social commentary in her native Italy, her memoirs hit a different note in Protestant England where Catholic convents and monasteries had long been closed; indeed, it participated in the anti-Catholic fetish fantasy of convents and monasteries as bastions of deviant and violent sexuality. She herself, by the memoir's end, emerges to a new and more promising life -- one which participates in popular Victorian cult of domesticity and motherhood, which she positions as far more godly and fulfilling. Yet it also leaves open the door of female desire and sexual fulfilment. "By the side of a husband who adores me, and to whom I respond with equal love, I am where the Almighty placed woman at the close of Creation's first week."


Register of Erotic Books 2950.
(Item #5626)

Price: $1,650 save 20% $1,320

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Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun
Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun
Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun
Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun
Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun
Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun
Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun
Memoirs of Henrietta Caracciolo, of the Princes of Forino. Ex Benedictine Nun