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You are watching a new English translation of Cesare Lombroso's book first published in 1893 in Italy. Lombroso's 'Criminal Woman,' which argues the idea of 'Born Criminal,' still remains very intriguing, if not convincing, to anyone who is interested in Western culture of the late 19th century, especially the criminology. Lombroso, famous Italian criminologist, is regarded as one of the first ones to apply the scientific methods to the analogy of crimes, and his prolific writings include 'Criminal Man' of which new translation, the editors Nicole Rafter and Mary Gibson promise, is forthcoming in 2005.
[ABOUT THIS TRANSLATION] The original book was soon translated into English in 1895, but the translated book 'The Femele Offender' was heavily cut and censored. According to the editors, this book restores the balance of the original's chapters, in order to give a full coverage of the author's idea. However, this new translation is also abridged to make it readable and accessable, deleting the repetitions and overlappings in the original book.
As the title of the book suggests, Lombroso and his co-worker Guilielmo Ferrero researched the field of crimes commited by females, and they tried to establish a theory about the origins of their supposedly anti-social behaviors. As I am not a criminologist myself, I should not summerize his quite curious (so I thought) theory, but his methods are worth noting here.
As is the case with many scientists of the 19th century, Lombroso often categorize his subject into several groups -- like 'The Criminal Woman' 'The Normal Woman' and 'The Prostitutes' (he considered prostitution as an independent type of crime) and further subdivides them (like 'Born Prostitutes' and 'Occasional Prostitutes') to compare the physical or psychological traits of the females.
What is more strange (and ridiculous, you may say) to the reader today is that when he tries to explain the characteristics of females among the 'normal' group, Lombroso even includes the female animals (including insects), with numerous examples that seem to belong to zoology, not anthropology now. So you will read a section 'Love among Animal Species' in which he quotes a female spider devouring the male after mating, along with the examples of cruel felony commited by female persons. You might not believe me, but the book has a section about the 'Crimes in the Animal World.'
And interestingly, in spite of his methods, not all his illustrations are not scientific, because his examples sit uncomfortably beside his quotations from popular proverbs and the reference to the literature (Tennyson, Sand, and most frequently, Zola). It's like reciting poetry in the class of biology.
More unsettling idea (which would invite the severest attack for being extremely politically incorrect if written by modern writers now) is the part in which Lombroso deals with the 'anomalities' of the crminals. Here is one of the examples you read in the book: Lombroso writes, 'Murderers, poisoners, and arsonists have the most prominent cheekbones ....' You see? With many photos and illustrations, Lombroso shows the 'abnormal' traits of the female criminals, claiming here is a new type among us.
So you will read this book as one of the historical proof that shows you how people thought about the things immediate to them. To those who are interested in criminology and sociology this book will be most useful, particularly if you want to know something about the then prevalent idea of degeneration.