Tag: United States

United States Literature – The American Renaissance

United States Literature – The American Renaissance

Taken from the title of an essay by the literary critic FO Matthiessen (1941), the expression designates the golden period of American literature of the 19th century, the one in which, in the mid-century years, RW Emerson, HD Thoreau, N. Hawthorne, H. Melville and W. Whitman published their major works.

5.1 Transcendentalism. The assumption of this artistic flourishing was the affirmation in New England of a current of thought, directly inspired by German idealism, called transcendentalism, which had its maximum development between 1836, the year of publication of Emerson’s essay, Nature, and the moment in which, towards the mid-1850s, the specter of civil war began to loom. Born as an evolution of the Unitarian Church with which, starting from 1815, WE Channing had attempted a first liberal reform of the dominant Calvinist rigidity, transcendentalism found in RW Emerson the greatest exponent and the most authoritative theorist. Claiming, on the basis of Kantian teaching, the absolute centrality of the cognitive process, precisely transcendent, Emerson became the interpreter of a concept of religious freedom that recognized the individual’s ability to participate, by virtue of the spontaneity of the mystical experience, to the knowledge of the collective transcendent soul (oversoul). One of the founders of the magazine The Dial, with a very pragmatic nature, in his most famous speeches Emerson bends his transcendentalist creed to the needs of independence of the American culture of the time (The American scholar, 1837), to those of freedom of testimony (The divinity school address, 1838) and affirmation of individual abilities (Self-reliance, in the Essays of 1841), thus giving life to a corpus (formed, in addition to the imposing Journals and Representative men, 1851, by other volumes of essays, poems, letters) which, albeit unsystematic, it became the breeding ground for the definitive American intellectual and artistic emancipation. ● The fundamental optimism with which Emerson looks at the individual and his harmonious relationship with nature becomes an integral part of the vision that his friend HD Thoreau articulates in his most important writings, Concord and Merrimack rivers (1849) to that masterpiece of American prose, between story, essay and diary, which is Walden (1854), a text in which Thoreau traces the two years of isolation in the woods near Concord which 1845 and 1847. This individualistic drive finds its proper political outlet in the essay Civil disobedience, which appeared as Resistance to civil government in 1849, in which the transcendentalist Thoreau, anticipating certain forms of anarchist spontaneism of the 20th century, defends the reasons of the individual against the power of a state that its profound political conscience finds a way to heavily criticize in the context of the abolitionist debate; and again, in the essays by Slavery in Massachusetts (1854) and in the famous A plea for John Brown (1860).

5.2 The novel. Still on the conflict between the individual and society, on the meanings of the link between man and nature, N. Hawthorne, the author who lays the foundations of that American tradition that he will find in the work of H. James, investigates in that same strip of Massachusetts.further development. Torn between a strong sense of the guilty excesses of the Puritan heritage and the imperative to give dignity to an artistic practice that is still largely poorly tolerated (recurring motifs of his stories, collected in the two editions of Twice-told tales, 1837, 1852; and in Mosses from an old manse, 1846), it is in the great historical fresco of The scarlet letter (1850), even more than in The house of the seven gables (1851) and in the other novels, that he manages to transpose his moral labor into literary testimony of the first magnitude, an allegory of an interior torment experienced in isolation. ● And it is precisely to the genius of Hawthorne that H. Melville will dedicate the other undisputed masterpiece of nineteenth-century American fiction, that Moby Dick which, which appeared in 1851, would be recognized as such only much later. After the happy debut with exotic atmospheric novels (Typee, 1846; Omoo, 1847) and the partial failure of the allegorical Mardi (1849), with Redburn (1849) and White Jacket (1850) Melville returns to investigate the precarious balance of life on board, already directly experienced in his youth as a sailor, which will be the background to the great Faustian drama of Ahab and the crew of the Pequod. Making use of an extraordinary variety of linguistic casts, from the biblical model to Shakespeare, from oral cadences to scientific lexicon, Moby Dick is constructed as a modern tragedy, at times even realistic, and yet full of allegorical implications, fantastic scraps, symbolic reverberations such as to make the only text of its kind. The commercial failure of the book, in fact, made Melville a novelist who survived himself,

5.3 Poetry. If it is therefore prose, and in particular the novel, that gives life to the Renaissance, it is poetry, the song of the son of Manhattan ‘W. Whitman to complete it. Anticipating today’s concept of open work, between the first publication of Leaves of grass (1855) and the so-called deathbed edition of 1891-92, Whitman constantly reworked his masterpiece bringing it, amidst additions and revisions, from the 12 original poems that accompanied the dense preface, to the hundreds of passages of this great epic of modern America. Effectively concentrated in the metaphor of a title, which explicitly refers to the transcendentalist idea of ​​harmony of nature, is the critical judgment on this work of ‘democratic poetry’: leaves of grass, or even different poems of the same work, the same but distinct, united in a set of single recognizable individualities.

United States Literature - The American Renaissance

United States Non-fiction Literature

United States Non-fiction Literature

Extremely alert and alert non-fiction follows, and sometimes anticipates and conditions, the various stages of this desperate search in many ways. And this on several levels.

The 1950s had seen the problem of the individual brought to the fore in a society massified by a super-industrial revolution. These are classics of sociological and socio-economic criticism well known also in Italy. We will remember The lonely crowd, from 1950 (trad. It., The solitary crowd, Bologna 1956) and Individualism reconsidered from 1964, by D. Riesman; Childhood and society, from 1950 (it., Childhood and society, Rome 1966), which will then be followed by Identity: Youth and crisis, from 1968 (it., Youth and identity crisis, Rome 1974), by E. Erikson; Hidden persuasers(New York 1957; transl. It., The occult persuaders, Turin 1958), by V. Packard; The affluent society (therein 1958; trans. It., The opulent society, Milan 1963), by K. Galbraith.

In the 1960s, the Canadian M. McLuhan introduces the theme of the relationship between information and knowledge that will dominate much of the debates of the time with exasperations – and sometimes even distortions – of his well-known and hallucinatory vision of the media as an extension of man and his possibility of perception of reality (Understanding media, Toronto 1964; trad. it., The tools of communication, Milan 1967; Culture is our business, therein 1970). As for the post-Marxist “prophecy” of H. Marcuse (v.), It and its direct or mediated influence in the political and ideal debate of the 1960s, also in Italy, had a specific season of popularity.

Moreover, there are many key books that seem to mark and almost indicate or summarize the most important movements of ideas of the last fifteen years: if T. Leary’s book, The politics of ecstasy (New York 1968) defined, more or less ambiguously, the intellectual and cultural boundaries of the psychedelic experience, is still a non-fiction book, the now classic The feminine mistique by B. Friedan (trans. it., La mystic of femininity, Milan 1964), with the later and more militant Sexual politics K. Millet (New York, 1970; trans. trans., the politics, Milano 1971) and the female eunuch G. Greer (the female eunuch, Milan 1972), to represent the point of reference and departure for the feminist movement.

Then there are the essays by J. Cage, Silence, A year from monday, New York 1961 (trad. It., Silenzio, Antologia da Silence and A year from monday, Milan 1971), himself a well-known exponent of the artistic avant-garde in various fields (music, dance, theater) to offer, among other things, a meeting point – less paradoxical than it appears – between technological culture and Zen spirit. At the same time, a peculiarly American cultural and literary experience, such as those of HD Thoreau, will be re-evaluated and reused.

But think especially in The Autobiography of Malcolm X (posthumous, 1965; trans. Trans., The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Torino 1967), which became the world, lit by the tragedy of the leading Negro said Malcolm Little Malcolm X, the manifesto of Black power, to fully grasp the solidity of the bond that links, in recent years, the world of ideas and the form of its expression to that of action and cultural and political debate. The meaning of literature in recent years, therefore, cannot fail to coincide, also for this reason (that is, that of the effectiveness and rapidity of the dissemination of the ideas expressed also by the printed media as well as the consequent and relative game of editorial interests that determines it or accompanies), largely with non-fiction. It is no coincidence that the essay by one of the best-known authors of this period, N. Mailer’s White negro, appeared in Advertisement for myself (New York 1959; trans. It., Advertisement for myself, Milan 1962), with its hero of the American night, seems to be able to be taken as a focal point of “transition” between the fifties and the sixties.

Naturally, the most strictly critical non-fiction is the field in which the complex game of mirrors between creative literature and reflection on it, between ideological source and critical gloss, which seems to us so peculiarly characterize the period we are dealing with, is most manifested. What distinguishes, in the variety of addresses, this critical literature from that which preceded it, is above all the precise, militant attention to the cultural themes of the moment and the collocation, if not the identification, of the literary fact in this context. ‘scope. This approach, replacing that of the enduring and authoritative tradition of New criticism, does not remain without consequences in the field of American letters.

The myth, therefore, or the illusion, or the mystification of this critical militancy – depending on the point of view from which the battle will be considered – is that of a neo-avant-garde considered as an even ideological response to the crisis of values ​​in American society.. On the one hand, the postulation of the death of literature and criticism and the affirmation – or rhetoric – of the literature of silence, on the other hand, the opposition of the “new” literary “sensitivity to the imperialism of the hyper-rationality of the entire Western artistic tradition “.

The very term “new sensibility” is, indeed, the invention of S. Sontag, one of the most effective critics and with the years (Against interpretation and other essays, New York 1967; trans. Trans., Against Interpretation, Milan 1967), while “The literature of silence” gives its title to another influential critical book (I. Hassan, The literature of silence, New York 1967), and R. Poirer, former director of Partisan review, has instead suggested, as an alternative to a humanistic critique, the use of modules for verifying more or less objectivizable models of performance or performance, both literary and political, of individual authors (The performing self, New York 1971). It has been said that this highly informed, militant and intelligent criticism is also influential, indeed extremely influential.

It is not so easy to discern whether an essay like The Illiberal Imagination by R. Scholes, based on non-structurability and non-rationalizability, and therefore on the non-narrability of the present, limits itself to critically supporting the narrative relativism of a J. Barth or of a K. Vonnegut or becomes in some way an ideological source of this type of literature which renounces the omniscence of the narrator of tradition; or how much, on the other hand, Barth or T. Pynchon himself owe to Poirier’s concept of playful literature.

At this point it also becomes necessary, as well as being quite obvious, to take note of the echoes – or convergences – of many European trends or fashions, from the structuralism of C. Lévi-Strauss to the phenomenology of Heidegger, to the contributions of linguistics and psycholinguistics, from semiotics of R. Barthes to the criticism of the negativity of M. Blanchot, up to the anti-Balzacian echoes of Robbe-Grillet. However, in the USA it happens that the belief and insistence on the meaning of the futility of literary culture, on the rhetoric of the end, underlies what has rightly been called “the ambiguous radicalism of today’s American counterculture”. For this same fact they take on an entirely different significance in the cultural history of the 1960s and early 1970s,

Finally, the vitality of American critical literature in recent years is also represented in many other ways: if the whimsical critical militancy of L. Fiedler partially falls within the lines described above, the literary chronicle of an A. Kazin polemically opposes it. Nor can the importance of academic criticism be totally underestimated (just as the importance of the various university centers in the attitude, formation and explosion of important cultural and political movements cannot be underestimated). It is valid for everyone to name, even as exponents of the historical-cultural school of American studies, H. Nash Smith and L. Marx.

The critic who more than any other had followed and directed forty years of American literary life died in these years: E. Wilson (v.).

The poem. – Even in poetry the 1940s had cast on the following decade the shadow of the “restrictions of benevolent tyranny” of the New Criticism and of the presence of Eliot and Pound (especially in his imagist version). This presence, with and through W. Stevens and H. Crane, was reflected in the erudite, formal and compressed poetry of very different poets such as T. Roethke and R. Eberhart, K. Shapiro and S. Kunitz, R. Jarrell and R. Lowell or R. Wilbur. All of this had been especially noticeable on a linguistic level. It is still at the linguistic level that the first new sign of the poetry of the Sixties must certainly be grasped.

New – or old – indigenous sources are rediscovered, from W. Whitman to C. Sandburg, from the Pound of Cantos to WC Williams, and with them the idiomatic, immediate, discontinuous of that “hoarse American language” of the newspaper not transferred into poetic language with a simple naturalistic operation, but filtered through the complex mediation and historical elaboration of a cultural myth.

This exquisitely formal (or anti-formal, if you prefer) sign is flanked by ideological signs from the former which are anything but separate and distinct. In the first place, even in chronological terms, it is the search for a more genuinely historical dimension of consciousness which also finds expression in the punctuality of an almost stubborn reference to the current one (so much so that it has been observed that some poems born from the Vietnam War cannot already today read without footnotes). On the other hand, in apparent contradiction to this type of research, we tend to see poetry as an internal correlative of that intact and virgin continent that has so long dominated the American imagination. The “open” forms of this poem, these “new frontiers”,

Finally, the attempt to place the last resort of another American historical and literary myth in poetry and its own formal experimentation: that of a democracy in “celebrated and permanent revolution”. Not too paradoxically the same sources seem to feed apparently different researches. It will be Whitman, and his robust poetic inclusiveness to provide the key to poetry open to historical circumstances as well as to the compensatory poetry of a freedom and innocence – even spatial – now lost.

WC Williams, an influence so important in the poetry of the Sixties that it sometimes came against all disavowed evidence (see the case of L. Ferlinghetti), provides almost obsessive models of poetic diction and the pattern, also widely repeated, of linguistic collage, historical and cultural. His Paterson, moreover, is a poem not in the American language, but on theAmerican language, and another of his short poems provides the most complete metaphorical representation of a certain vision of American poetry of the Sixties: a poem that continually flourishes from its own failures just like the flower whose formal model takes effect when it undresses of its own petals. And through the metaphor, in fact, poetry also becomes a correlative of democracy in permanent revolution.

However, the indication of trends does not exempt, as will be seen, from further distinctions. The exceptionality, drama and variety of the contradictions that exploded in America in the Sixties directly affect the poetic research of those years which recorded continuous second thoughts, retreats, frustrations and renunciations, and nourished by these, no less than positive achievements.

It will suffice to think – at an extremely simple level – how the use of the “raucous everyday idiom”, which seems a generalized constant, is directly undermined by the semantic distortion operated by the public use of certain words through the mass media and as the poet can only be aware of it (“Language – wrote D. Levertov – they erode you as war erodes us”). Or it will suffice to think how the attempt at poetic internalization of historical processes has often clashed with an irresistible temptation to set aside historical memory as unsustainable at the level of individual conscience, to understand how – especially during and after the Vietnam War (” the war did not end for us even when peace was declared ”

It will therefore no longer be so easily reliable – in the poetry of these years – the now famous distinction of P. Roth of “pale faces” and “redskins” (in turn following the Apollonian and Dionysian Nietzschean) or, on the formal level, that of R. Lowell between “raw” and “cooked” verse, or Ferlinghetti between poetry of the ivory tower and poetry of the street. In fact, the mutations of taste that follow or accompany a crisis of collective consciousness of an entity never registered before, allow only in broad outline a distinction between schools and poetic tendencies. Within each group and each school, alongside the inevitable differentiation determined by individual talents, further differences, evolutions and involutions must be implied to be grasped at a chronological level.

All this variety finds a good representation, even historical, in the anthologies that had great merits in the poetic culture of the time. The now famous The New American Poetry by D. Allen (New York 1960) stands as a sort of manifesto of “open poetry” (from C. Olson to the Dominican Brother Antoninus, from R. Duncan to D. Levertov, R. Creeley or A. Ginsberg), somehow breaking with everything that had been anthologized up to that point. More eclectic are the anthologies from the late 1960s (such as Naked poetry by S. Berg and R. Mezey from 1969, or Possibilities of poetryby R. Kostelanetz of 1970). They make room, without particular taste discrimination, for the various schools that have gradually established themselves: the Black Mountain group with Olson and Creeley, the New York group with J. Ashbery and K. Koch, the Beats by Ginsberg and Corso, or the so-called “San Francisco Renaissance” school by R. Duncan and L. Ferlinghetti. With the same catholicity of choice these anthologies, in fact, also document and codify the numerous exchanges that took place between the various groups.

Let’s start with the first, in chronological order, of these schools, that is the one grouped around Black Mountain College in North Carolina and the magazine of the same name published there. The group has its own precise historical location which coincides precisely with D. Allen’s anthology of 1960 in which C. Olson’s essay-manifesto reappears (Projective verse), together rector of the Experimental College from 1951 to 1956 and central figure of the group. With this publication what had been produced and expressed in the quite exceptional climate of a group of creative talents (which alongside poets such as the aforementioned Duncan and Creeley, sees musicians such as J. Cage or D. Tudor, choreographers such as M. Cunningham, architects like Buckminster Fuller), since the early 1950s, emerged from the semi-clandestine nature of private and limited editions to acquire national weight and reach.

Projective verse, in apparent contrast with the highly refined literary and cultural baggage of its author and his followers, postulated in a provocatively red style the “form as pure extension of the content” and, above all, the technical necessity for the poet to recover – a metric and rhythmic level – “the full power of the human voice”. Olson’s was certainly seminal work, whose influence is not limited to the group that worked with Olson at Black Mountain or to the poets, who were already very different themselves, who joined it from the outside, such as D. Levertov or P. Blackburn, but it extends far beyond motivating a very wide range of formal and stylistic researches.

The same Beat group of J. Kerouac, A. Ginsberg, G. Corso and W. Burroughs that was born in New York and then moved, at first occasionally and then more permanently, to San Francisco, began to publish their versions in the Black Mountain Review of “open style” using the same poetic sources (from Whitman to Williams) and to express the sense of an experience quite distinct from that of Olson and his parents, in which sex, violence and drugs dominate. Indeed, it seems paradoxical that the poet beatUsing obscene and blasphemous language as necessary for his own revolt, he thus recovered the rhetoric he had thought to undress with his choice of poetic diction. In truth, some subsequent mystical or ecological escapes of the beats might have already been able to grasp the ideology of this formal choice. Towards the end of the 1950s the cultural and geographical crossroads of the many forms of “open poetry” thus became, it has been said, San Francisco. The sheets and magazines that are published there, its small publishing houses (City Light Booksm Corinth, Jargon, Tiber, Totem, Auerha, etc.) together with the most well-known and solid publishing houses of the East, such as Grove Press or New Directions,

In a mixture of new bohemia and anti-academic manifesto, what will be called the San Francisco Renaissance develops and takes place. Brother Antoninus will be part of it in his personal and incandescent synthesis of W. Whitman and GM Hopkins, many of the beat poets, and above all R. Duncan and L. Ferlinghetti. The first, associated, as we have seen, with the Black Mountain group, uses a wide range of different cultural experiences, in particular musical (Strawinsky, Schönberg or Satie) and mythical-fable in a poem that, despite the theoretical adhesion in the “projective direction”, it remains extremely controlled, dense and sometimes manneristic. As for the second, it is in his bookshop and around his publishing house (City Light) that the most important poetic phenomena emerge.

Ferlinghetti’s poetry accentuates and enhances those “oral” qualities of poetry that American literature had, sometimes in vain, pursued as a distinctive and autochthonous element in the last twenty years (especially in WC Williams), bending them to the vivid, satirical and vehement expression of a precise political and cultural commitment, of the anger and impotence that sometimes accompanies it. However, the emergence of the attraction pole on the west coast does not completely overshadow the great centers of the East, traditionally the heart of the American artistic avant-garde and, in particular, New York. Three young Harvardians, K. Koch, F. O’Hara and J. Ashbery, will converge in New York to give life to a different experience of “open poetry”, an experience that does not prescind from the surrealist contribution.

Ironic, desecrating, hyper-refined, the poetry of the New York group is consciously placed in a more exquisitely cosmopolitan context and area than those in which the other groups we have mentioned move and with which also contacts and exchanges over the years they have been many.

These are the three groups that best seemed to embody the image of poetry in recent years. Alongside them, some poets who – even in their later works – continue with excellence a tradition of formalism quite close to the experiences of the 1950s. For example, D. Schwartz, editor of Partisan Review, died in 1966, leaving in the American literary world the regret for the disappearance of a great poetic personality that never seemed fully expressed, and the vivid memory of a desperate and disturbing human personality.. In addition to Summer Knowledge of 1959, remains in testimoniarcelo a beautiful anthology of criticism published posthumously, in 1970, Selected Essays of D. Schwartz.

The personality of another poet who died in recent years, R. Jarrell, with his The woman at the Washington zoo in 1960 and The lost world in 1965, is less controversial but still noteworthy. by Jarrell (Complete poems, New York 1970) which very well epitomizes a whole poetic era, precisely the one represented by a famous anthological collection edited by Jarrell himself in the 1950s, with the significant title of Poetry and the age (New York 1953; trans. it., The poetry of an era, Parma 1956).

Finally, in 1963 T. Roethke, poet of the “joyful condition” and “pure desperation”, with a tortured sensitivity, disappears. The difficult and romantic relationship between the self and the world is expressed by Roethke in the form of interior monologues, well inserted in the American tradition, with the help of an elliptical, colloquial diction, full of echoes and verbal associations and cultural and a vivid capacity for irony and humor. The far field, the poetry collection that came out in 1964, well represents the last phase of Roethke’s poetic work.

Finally, and for various reasons, we have left R. Lowell, the most complex and complete, without any doubt and by general acclamation, post-war poetic personality, who passed away, still relatively young, in 1977. In recent years, since 1960 of the beautiful Life studies onwards, Lowell’s “manner” and his own poetic contents change in a rather remarkable form. From the cultured, complexly structured versification of Land of unlikeness (1944) and Lord Weary’s castle(1946), we pass to a flat poetic diction, almost prosastic and yet subtly controlled in its calmness. From the tormented and dark hope of contemporary redemption to the equally tormented conversion to Catholicism, to the both real and metaphorical introduction of the anguish of mental illness in her “confession” poem., An introduction that somehow manages to be itself. calm. Of this same poetic language, which reaches the essentiality of its clarity through a very rare formal elaboration, Lowell will use to face and even groped to organize and emotionally dominate the chaos and the political and moral senselessness of the contemporary, from the Vietnam War. to the tough racial riots in Newark, from the deaths of Che Guevara, ML King, R. Kennedy to the French May. It will be enough to nameFor the union dead (1964), Near the Ocean of 1967, and that Notebook: 1967 – 68 (1969) model of the so-called “confessional poetry” of the sixties and seventies.

United States Non-fiction Literature

United States Criminal Law

United States Criminal Law

When the United States became independent, English criminal law generally prevailed in all states. Features of this were:

  1. there was no code, nor a list established by law, of punishable offenses, with the relative penalty. There was, however, a certain number of ” common law crimes “, each distinguished by a special name (mostly of French origin: arson “ fire”; larceny “theft”, etc.) and for each of them the punishment and the details of the crime were made to depend on the theory adopted about the relations between the colonies and the parliament. In addition, each colony had a certain number of minor offenses, configured by colonial and state legislation, after obtaining independence;
  2. all “common law crimes” were divided into two categories (of feudal and traditional origin): in “felonies” (felonies) and in “misdemeanors” (misdemeanors); and in England, at the time of the revolution, all crimes of the first kind – calculated from some to 220, but considering the subspecies of the same crime as different figures – were subjected to the death penalty. However, it does not seem that in practice such severity was applied in the colonies;
  3. there was no public prosecution, although at times some official, such as the attorney general, took the initiative in the proceedings, as in England; but as a rule criminal trials, like civil ones, were privately initiated;
  4. there was no appeal from the criminal sentences, but only the appeal to the crown by grace.

The tendency to reform criminal law immediately took hold in American law. In the United States the influence of Bentham – and, through him, of Montesquieu and Beccaria – was stronger than in England; and the death penalty had already been practically abolished except for the most serious crimes and the request for a penal code, that is, a written law that defined the crimes and fixed their penalties, became more and more insistent. In 1805 Louisiana enacted a comprehensive written criminal law, which named and defined certain offenses, but with no intention of ignoring those excluded. In 1821, Edward Livingston was commissioned to prepare a penal code and he proposed a general one for the United States. His project – one of the first modern criminal codes, based on natural law doctrines derived from Bentham and Beccaria – was much discussed and admired, but not applied by either Louisiana or any other state. However, the impulse he gave was not in vain, and resulted in the formation of penal codes for all states.

Thus the nulla poena sine lege principle has become fundamental in the United States. The doctrine of common law crimes has been repudiated by American courts since 1813 and often expressly abolished by various written laws. And even without this, it is universally believed that the execution and definition of offenses in written laws are exclusive; of course, many crimes are not defined in the codes, but in particular laws. Furthermore, if the law does not establish the penalty for the prohibited act, there can be no punishment. To avoid involuntary omissions, most of the codes establish that, in the absence of a specific penalty, the maximum penalty established for misdemeanors is imposed: usually, one year in prison.

The abandonment of the death penalty – except for the most serious crimes – was a characteristic of colonial criminal law; immediately after the revolution, this principle entered the laws of the states; in 1801 in New York the death penalty was retained only for crimes against state security (including under the generic name of treason, literally or treason “) and for murder. This is still the situation today in most But the penalty established in 1801 for other very serious crimes, for example, robbery and fire, is also a penalty that would now be called capital, that is, imprisonment for life.

Under the humanitarian impulse, represented for Americans above all by Bentham, the tendency was to reduce the sentence for most of the felonies and to graduate the sentence in a way corresponding to the hatefulness of the crime. It was the traditional conception of rationalism that, with great accuracy, this result could be obtained; and certainly this system represented a progress, as it broke the severe and inflexible system that punished all the felonies in the same way, but it too lacked flexibility, as it punished all those guilty of the same crime in the same way. But at the end of the century. XIX the doctrines of the Italian anthropological school were discussed a lot in the United States and a vast reform movement tried to apply the doctrine of the individualization of punishment. In many states there were laws that left the sentence indefinite and allowed conditional sentence (parole), despite some popular opposition, which however failed to stop this movement.

However, there have been sporadic attempts to increase the severity of the laws in certain cases. One of the “Baumes laws” (named after CH Baumes; 1926) of New York, copied from other states, provides for life imprisonment for the third (or fourth; see EncyclBritannica, 14th ed., III, p. 227) conviction for felon. Similarly, in certain states the death penalty has been extended to certain other crimes, especially where public sentiment regarded them with particular horror and terror: thus in the southern states fire and rape are often considered capital crimes (rape), as well as in other states the rat in person, mainly for the purpose of extortion (kidnapping).

The prevailing tendency in some countries of the European continent to invest the judge with wide discretionary powers in determining whether and to what extent an action is punishable, has found little echo in United States legislation.

The spirit that animated the first reformers of the penal laws derived not only from a doctrinary humanitarianism, but also from the severity and cruelty of the norms of common law. This severity prompted the judges to find loopholes for the accused during the trial. In addition, appeals in criminal cases were made possible and these appeals in a relatively large number of trials overturned convictions for purely technical reasons.

Another step towards the protection of the accused was the general introduction of the right to legal aid. The common law originally did not allow this in the processes for felony and “treason.” For the latter, the norm was changed after 1688, but for the first only in the middle of the century. XIX. But in the United States the right to be assisted by a lawyer at every stage of the proceedings was accorded to the accused from the outset.

All of these provisions could lend themselves to abuses which legislation has recently tried to put an end to.

Even the criminal procedure soon developed in a sense that differentiated it from the English one. As has been said, in England the norm was that the accusation should be brought by a private individual, usually the injured person. The continental method of submitting all criminal proceedings to the direction of a public official was regarded with favor in the United States from the earliest times. In New York, a district attorney was created by the laws of 1801 to direct the criminal proceedings in a group of counties; the district attorney was a representative of the attorney general, the highest official of the state judicial administration. This office spread throughout the United States and became as characteristic of the county as that of the sheriff. He had the exclusive authority to initiate criminal proceedings and also some vigilance over the indictment juries and the accusations. More recently, laws have been passed that accentuate the district attorney’s accountability to the governor or attorney general and have had the desired effect of easing the local limitations of the office somewhat.

In a number of states there is a public advocate for the poor accused. Where this office does not exist, it is the court that appoints an official defender, who is obliged, for professional duty, to lend himself free of charge.

The allegations are still the work of a special jury (Grand Jury) as it has long been in England. But it works on the advice of the district attorney, and seldom deviates from it. With laws multiplied after the second half of the century. XIX an even older method has been restored, the information system, whereby the district attorney can in many cases proceed without resorting to formal prosecution.

In ordinary procedure, the rules on evidence are mostly the same as in civil trials. It is generally stated as a norm that proof of righteousness must be given “beyond reasonable doubt”. This sentence is capable of being interpreted with great latitude and has not prevented a certain number of painful judicial errors. Research by Thayer and others has shown that the famous “presumption of innocence” that laws and judgments often claim to be a fundamental feature of American law is little more than a symbolic phrase.

But a notable feature of the American procedure is a special development of the double jeopardy (“double risk”). In common law, the canonical norm ne bis in idem gave rise to the exceptions autrefois acquit and autrefois convict. This principle was incorporated in the Bill of Rights of the various constitutions and is generally expressed in the prohibition of a “double judgment for the same transgression”. A person acquitted once cannot therefore be indicted again for the same crime and this necessarily prevents the state from appealing. Instead the condemned person can appeal, because that norm is dictated in his favor and therefore he can renounce it. In trials that end with capital punishments, appeals are automatic, and very frequent in others as well. Despite popular beliefs to the contrary, appeals are now rarely successful.

In any case, the frequent use of appeals, such as the excessive technicality of the law of evidence, has contributed a lot to the slowness of the procedure which is a real flaw in American criminal justice. This has often been tried to remedy. The common practice in the century. XIX, to grant the annulment of the sentence for any mistake committed, has been modified by law and the Courts of Appeal now have as a rule not to annul unless it is clear that without precisely that error the verdict would have been acquittal..

Criminal law is now actively concerned with improving police organization and punishment methods. With all the deficiencies of the jury system and the law of evidence, the real difficulty for the good administration of justice is in these instruments rather than in the courts and the legislation to come will probably be all directed towards obtaining improvements in these matters.

United States Criminal Law

The 10 top honeymoon destinations

The 10 top honeymoon destinations

A wedding is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have in your life. On this day you marry the love of your life and you promise it eternal loyalty, support and affection. But a wedding must also be planned so that it can be a wonderful day and of course the honeymoon also belongs to the wedding.

In order for the honeymoon to be unforgettable, you should talk to your future spouse as early as possible about what ideas you have about the honeymoon and what wishes you would like to fulfill. Sometimes you have to compromise, because not everyone has the same taste. But which countries or cities are particularly suitable for honeymoons? Would you rather go to the sun and the sea or is a city trip the perfect choice for a honeymoon? Below are the top 10 honeymoon destinations.

Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

The remoteness of this island is the perfect place to start your marriage.

Paris, France

It is not for nothing that Paris is called the city of love, because couples who are in love and newlyweds regularly get lost in this city.

Bali, Indian Ocean

In Bali you can also make yourself comfortable on your honeymoon on the white sandy beaches.

Venice, Italy

Venice is also a very romantic city that is often visited during honeymoons. You can sit in one of the gondolas with your spouse and glide through the canals or take a romantic night stroll through the narrow streets.


Greece has a lot of pages that are ideal for a beautiful honeymoon. You can spend your honeymoon, for example, on islands like Rhodes with their cute white houses and blue shutters, or you can visit a cosmopolitan city with a history like Athens.

Maldives, Indian Ocean

No place is better suited for a dreamlike and heavenly honeymoon than the Maldives.

Rome, Italy

If you read Roma the other way around, it’s called Cupid and that’s why this impressive city is also suitable for a honeymoon.

New York City, United States

If you love the big city flair, New York is the perfect honeymoon destination.


In the Caribbean, you can forget all your worries during your honeymoon and enjoy a few heavenly weeks by the sea.

Las Vegas, United States

Las Vegas is not only useful for a short-term wedding, but also for the subsequent honeymoon, because here you can test your fresh luck directly in a casino.

Las Vegas, United States

The 10 most famous sights in New York

The 10 most famous sights in New York

There is a lot to discover in the city that never sleeps. If you don’t have time to see everything, you can limit yourself to the 10 most famous sights:

  1. New York’s Times Square

Right in the heart of Manhattan’s Broadway is the square named after the famous New York Times newspaper. Imposing neon signs and pure life attract tourists here in droves every day. In addition to the dazzling scenery, Times Square also offers countless leisure activities.

  1. The Empire State Building

New York’s second tallest building (after the One World Trade Center) and one of the tallest in the world was built between 1930 and 1931. From the upper viewing platform, it offers its visitors an unforgettable view of the entire Big Apple.

  1. The Rockefeller Center

The observation deck of the Rockefeller Center – the so-called Top of the Rock – in Manhattan also offers an excellent view of the city, although it is only the 14th tallest building in New York. The impressive building complex has been built and continuously expanded since the 1920s.

  1. The Brooklyn Bridge

This New York landmark connects the Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods and is considered one of the most famous bridges in the world. In fact, it was built in 1883, making it one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States.

  1. The One World Trade Center

The tallest building in the United States and the fourth tallest in the world today houses mostly offices. It was built between 2006 and 2014 on Ground Zero, the site where the original World Trade Center was destroyed in 2001.

  1. Central Park

Central Park, known from film and television in Manhattan, is the largest park in the city. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, it offers an oasis of peace and nature and is therefore often referred to by the New Yorkers as the “lung of the city”.

  1. Staten Island Ferry

The ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island is free – and it offers every visitor to the city a unique view of what is probably the most famous skyline in the world.

  1. Wall Street

A visit, maybe even a tour, through this well-known absolute center of power is definitely worth it. A large part of all important financial transactions in the world are carried out here.

  1. Grand Central Station

The Manhattan train station was inaugurated in 1913. Since then it has been the largest train station in the world. A visit to this building, which can be seen in countless films and series, is always worthwhile.

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located in the middle of famous Fifth Avenue is the largest museum in the United States. Over three million works of art from really all eras and corners of the world can be admired here.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art