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schiavi ognor frementi

Slaves forever in a rage. In her revisions Mary Shelley is betrayed into a historical anachronism, for it was only with the Congress of Vienna of 1814-15 that Austria, already given the northeastern section of Italy in 1797, additionally was ceded Lombardy. Its capital, Milan, was thereafter a center of subversive unrest, and many of its leading citizens in the 1820s were convicted of sedition and incarcerated in the infamous Austrian prison of Spielberg. Silvio Pellico's account, Le mie prigioni (My Prisons) was published in 1832, the year after the third edition of Frankenstein, and became a European best-seller. In the decade and a half following the Congress of Vienna, Britain became a center for exiles from the Milanese intelligentsia, among whom was Gabriele Rossetti, father of Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

As contemporary English readers might be anticipated almost automatically to sympathize with the plight of a Milanese exile, so they would respond to the essentially imperialist ethos of this description of the blond beauty distinguished as a "rose among dark-leaved brambles." Both Elizabeth's aristocratic background and her fair northern beauty play to the expectations of the main line of British fiction in the early 1830s, what because of its high-bourgeois conventions has come to be called "the Silver Fork School."