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Promessi sposi (eBook Supereconomici)

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"I promessi sposi" di Alessandro Manzoni è considerato il più importante ed il primo romanzo della letteratura italiana e l’opera letteraria più rappresentativa del Risorgimento italiano e del romanticismo italiano nonché una delle massime opere della letteratura italiana.


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"I promessi sposi" di Alessandro Manzoni è considerato il più importante ed il primo romanzo della letteratura italiana e l’opera letteraria più rappresentativa del Risorgimento italiano e del romanticismo italiano nonché una delle massime opere della letteratura italiana.

30 review for Promessi sposi (eBook Supereconomici)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Manzoni's historical novel The Betrothed--although not much read today in the English-speaking world--is considered by many Italians to be the greatest novel written in their language. It is indeed a great novel. Manzoni, building on the simple romantic story of an engaged couple whose scheduled wedding is prevented by the designs of a lustful noble, creates a rich, many-shaded portrait of life in the vicinity of Milan in the early 17th Century, featuring war, famine, plague and riot, great crim Manzoni's historical novel The Betrothed--although not much read today in the English-speaking world--is considered by many Italians to be the greatest novel written in their language. It is indeed a great novel. Manzoni, building on the simple romantic story of an engaged couple whose scheduled wedding is prevented by the designs of a lustful noble, creates a rich, many-shaded portrait of life in the vicinity of Milan in the early 17th Century, featuring war, famine, plague and riot, great crime and sincere repentance, selfish and saintly deeds. This is one of the least ironic and most compassionate books I have read, a book truly Catholic in the best sense of the world, in which every character--no matter how flawed--is seen as a human being working out his destiny in a world that is essentially good. God is merciful, and His church offers sacramental comfort and absolution to all, even for the bloodiest of deeds and the rashest of vows.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lorenzo Berardi

    This novel is hated by many generations of Italians. Poor Alessandro Manzoni! He's not to blame for the bad reputation of his book. The moronic Italian educational system is the only guilt of the assassination of I Promessi Sposi in most of its readers. Just consider this: in Italy we study this novel at primary school, at secondary school and at high school. Every single time restarting from its beginning. Therefore it's pretty obvious that I Promessi Sposi becomes one of the worst nightmares of This novel is hated by many generations of Italians. Poor Alessandro Manzoni! He's not to blame for the bad reputation of his book. The moronic Italian educational system is the only guilt of the assassination of I Promessi Sposi in most of its readers. Just consider this: in Italy we study this novel at primary school, at secondary school and at high school. Every single time restarting from its beginning. Therefore it's pretty obvious that I Promessi Sposi becomes one of the worst nightmares of every young Italian pupil. I don't know why things don't change. Teachers and professors are simply obliged to include this novel in their programmes just like their students are forced to learn whole chapters of the book, being questioned on them. Nevertheless I Promessi Sposi is a very good, intense and some times cinematic fresco of its own times, giving the best and most vivid description ever of the Great Plague in Milan during the 17th century. If you haven't been an Italian student I think you have to get a chance to this novel together with "Le confessioni di un italiano" by Ippolito Nievo which is even better.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dhanaraj Rajan

    When I began this novel, I was not sure whether I would complete it. The reason: I began it in the wrong time, that is, when I had many other responsibilities. So it could never have served as a gap filler in the days. Also, a thick volume would entail many days in such a tight schedule. I was sure to be discouraged. But as the book came in the package and as I began to read it I was immediately fascinated by the characters and the place described. I gave it a try and now I have completed the bo When I began this novel, I was not sure whether I would complete it. The reason: I began it in the wrong time, that is, when I had many other responsibilities. So it could never have served as a gap filler in the days. Also, a thick volume would entail many days in such a tight schedule. I was sure to be discouraged. But as the book came in the package and as I began to read it I was immediately fascinated by the characters and the place described. I gave it a try and now I have completed the book and my responsibilities stare at me. Lol! This is considered to be an Italian Classic. And it is a Classic indeed. The blurb at the back of the novel states thus: "Two lovers must face tyrants, war, riots, plague and famine as they struggle to be together, in this teeming panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life - the original historical novel." I think, that is a great summary of the entire book. But it has said hardly anything. I mean the experience that the reader has as he/she reads through the pages is irreplaceable. The reader will literally walk the paths in the district of Lecco and lanes in the city of Milan of the 17th century. Not only that, he/she also will go through the significant events as the participant observer. Reading through the events of famine, the war, the riot in Milan and especially the plague is equal to living through the events. When Renzo (the main protagonist) was running away I felt myself running away and when he felt indignant I felt myself indignant. When I saw through the eyes of Renzo the pathetic situation of plague in Milan, it repulsed me. If it was not for the search of Lucia I surely would have abandoned the city long time back. I put up with Renzo because I was as anxious as Renzo to find out what happened to Lucia (Renzo's betrothed). Another part that you cannot miss is: the farewell to the mountains that comes at the end of the first part of the novel. The protagonists run from their village to escape a great danger and as they move from their place they take leave of their place. It will move you to tears. Powerful evocation is not all that made this novel great. This novel is also about wonderful character studies. Renzo stands for a good hearted simple peasant/silk weaver who gets into trouble because of his impulsive behaviour. As and when situation required he also could exercise certain cunning faculty that he has in his possession. Lucia, his lover is just the opposite. She is innocent as dove and who has complete faith in the Providence. She sees God in every moment even when she finds herself in danger. She never compromises her Christian values for anything. She is a saint. Don Abbondio is the cure of both Lucia and Renzo. But he does not marry them because he is frightened by the tyrant don Rodrigo who has an eye for Lucia. He is an epitome of a person who will put his own self before everything else. If such attitude will result in much sufferings for the others, he is not worried. I can go on talking about other characters (the nun in Monza, the Unnamed, the Cardinal Federigo Borremeo, Capuchin friar Christopher, etc. This novel is also typically Catholic. The seventeenth century Italy was Catholic and so it is not a surprise. But then, the fact that Italy also had produced Giovanni Boccaccio already in the 14th century stands to prove that there were opinions contrary to Catholic Church in Catholic Italy. Manzoni here in this novel, however, stands as a staunch Catholic heralding the Catholic opinions. In fact, he also must have been very well versed in theology. The speeches given by Capuchin Friar Christopher and the sermon by another Capuchin at the end of the novel are excellent spiritual commentaries on many aspects (forgiveness, faith in Providence, mercy of God, etc). There is a passage in which Cardinal Federigo reprimands Don Abbondio for not doing his priestly duty. The reprimand runs for two chapters. In fact, they are wonderful source of spiritual inspiration for any Catholic priest. The novel contains two events of great conversions. They are moving descriptions and the way Manzoni narrates them by interpreting them as the act of Gods great mercy will edify a Christian reader. Besides the passage that contains reprimand of Cardinal Federigo, the conversion narratives were my favourite parts of the novel. You read a novel and come out spiritually nourished and strengthened. Manzoni could do that to me. Last Aside: Pope Francis had asked the betrothed couple to read this novel in the weekly general audience in May 2015. That is a solid advice. In fact, it is a good book to gift to Christian couple already engaged or married or finding difficulty in marriage. There are many passages in the novel where Christian/sacramental marriage is spoken highly of. The Pope was 'cunning' enough to ask them to read a novel in stead of Church's teaching on marriage. For the teaching is found in the novel in a scattered form.

  4. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    If you are not Italian or a literature major, you may not be familiar with Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed; I wasn’t. And if you aren’t a determined reader, you might give up on its dense description of seventeen century customs and rigorous lifestyle from a nineteenth century reunification* perspective. It was an unduly harsh time for Italian peasantry. Cycles of plagues, grueling poverty, starvation existence on unreliable crops, nothing even resembling government ‘assistance’ except more i If you are not Italian or a literature major, you may not be familiar with Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed; I wasn’t. And if you aren’t a determined reader, you might give up on its dense description of seventeen century customs and rigorous lifestyle from a nineteenth century reunification* perspective. It was an unduly harsh time for Italian peasantry. Cycles of plagues, grueling poverty, starvation existence on unreliable crops, nothing even resembling government ‘assistance’ except more inflexibility and intimidation. Sometimes the Church and Her sacraments could be relied upon for succor, but Her ministers could also be bought or frightened into withholding their services as happened to our hero and heroine in the beginning of this story. Renzo and Lucia, who want to marry, are stymied on their wedding day by a jealous local baron who threatens a cowardly priest into refusing to marry them. Set against all odds Renzo and Lucia go their separate ways after a ‘series of unfortunate events’ seems bound to keep them apart forever. And as I mention below, there are some phenomenal hidden treasures which pop out at you during the tale, such as the real, Federigo Borromeo, Cardinal of Milan, the conversion of the Unnamed, finely-drawn character descriptions for connoisseurs of the art, as well as some delightful comic relief. Truly an epic story! Today’s reader might prefer this to be edited, but I would just encourage them to listen to it in its entirety. Yes, there are some rather overlong parts, but I would not remove a word. Bravo Mr. Manzoni! *Risorgimento ([risordʒiˈmento], meaning "the Resurgence" or "revival"), was the political and social movement that consolidated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of the Kingdom of Italy in the 19th century. September 19, 2018: This book has turned out to be so much more than I ever ever expected. The premise did not sound very complicated, but the history of the era is what gives it such a richness. It is also much longer than I thought. still reading... August 13, 2018: In this month's Magnificat (August 2018) there was an article, How the Church Has Changed the World, A Man of Rebirth describing a scene from Betrothed, which though fictional, relates an actual historical event in the life of Federigo Borromeo, Cardinal of Milan (1564-1631). Reading that made me want to re-start Manzoni's book, previously downloaded. Had set it aside as slow-going; now I am more determined.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    An all-time masterpiece of Italian literature. We Italians all study it at school and of course, get bored to tears by it, unless we find some time to actually read and re-read it for our own interest and pleasure - perhaps years after graduation day!. That's when we can truly appreciate the wit, the humour, the historical and psychological insight, the language (it's a pity it cannot be conveyed in translations). The plot is quite simple and you surely have heard of it... if you watch soap oper An all-time masterpiece of Italian literature. We Italians all study it at school and of course, get bored to tears by it, unless we find some time to actually read and re-read it for our own interest and pleasure - perhaps years after graduation day!. That's when we can truly appreciate the wit, the humour, the historical and psychological insight, the language (it's a pity it cannot be conveyed in translations). The plot is quite simple and you surely have heard of it... if you watch soap operas and the like: two young people want to get married, but the rich and powerful (yet evil) ruler of their village got a crush on the girl... The couple will have to overcome lots of trouble and adventure (in the turmoil of XVII century Northern Italy) to fulfill their dream.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    If you can get through the first 100 pages of The Betrothed, which are entirely plot, extremely operatic, and full of bumbling intrigues, I suspect you will ultimately find it rewarding. It concerns two young peasants from a village near Lake Como in 1628, Lorenzo and Lucia, who are engaged. But a local scoundrel, the wealthy and tyrannical Don Rodrigo, has taken a shine to Lucia and has his ruffians threaten the priest who is supposed to conduct the wedding, so the wedding is foiled, and Lucia If you can get through the first 100 pages of The Betrothed, which are entirely plot, extremely operatic, and full of bumbling intrigues, I suspect you will ultimately find it rewarding. It concerns two young peasants from a village near Lake Como in 1628, Lorenzo and Lucia, who are engaged. But a local scoundrel, the wealthy and tyrannical Don Rodrigo, has taken a shine to Lucia and has his ruffians threaten the priest who is supposed to conduct the wedding, so the wedding is foiled, and Lucia and Lorenzo both flee in different directions for their personal safety. Manzoni interrupts the plot often to give us historical background - on wars, political intrigues, ecclesiastical happenings, famine and pestilence, sometimes quoting historians directly. His tone shifts between comical and tragic; some characters are clownish, others entirely pure of heart, some well-meaning but foolish, some wholly evil. It reminded me somewhat of Candide, although its occasional satirical tone never approaches the pungency of Voltaire's. I wanted to know more about Gertrude, the mysterious Nun of Monza, one of the more fascinating characters. Her story should have been more developed, (view spoiler)[ and she should have popped up again later in the novel. Her plotline needed more of an arc. (hide spoiler)] Archibald Colquhoun's 1959 translation feels just a little off in places - Lucia referring to her mother as "Mummy," men calling younger men "sonny," a reference to babies' nappies. He informs us that the first English translation, of 1828, was horrendous, and the ones that followed throughout the century not much better. Manzoni sounds like kind of an odd man; Colquhoun's excellent preface tells us that he hated meeting new people, was terrified of crowds, would order his servants to drive away birds in the trees under his windows, and weighed his clothes several times a day. He "was so forgetful that he would quote his own writings, thinking he was quoting others." As for the novel, "for Italy it is all Scott, Dickens, and Thackeray rolled into one volume," though "its spirit is perhaps nearer Tolstoy."

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cphe

    Historical novel set in Italy during the 1600's. It's a long novel that may appeal to some, it just wasn't my cup of tea. There's a bit of everything on offer here, skullduggery, star crossed lovers, treachery, pestilence and plague. Couldn't say in all honesty that the main characters appealed to me neither Lucy or Renzo. Lucy was a bit of a striking violet for my reading taste. Still it was listed on the Guardian 1000 list and I'm glad that I took the chance to read, it just wasn't a story that Historical novel set in Italy during the 1600's. It's a long novel that may appeal to some, it just wasn't my cup of tea. There's a bit of everything on offer here, skullduggery, star crossed lovers, treachery, pestilence and plague. Couldn't say in all honesty that the main characters appealed to me neither Lucy or Renzo. Lucy was a bit of a striking violet for my reading taste. Still it was listed on the Guardian 1000 list and I'm glad that I took the chance to read, it just wasn't a story that engaged me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dagny

    A marvelous read! There are quite a few asides to fill us in on the history of the time the story is set. Most are interesting, a few go on too long for my taste, but not enough to knock even half a star off my rating. The book is loaded with great quotes. ". . . we all know that traditions, unless someone lends them a hand, never give you the full story."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    What a book! On the first level simply a long, somewhat rambling historical novel about Milan and its surroundings in the seventeenth century, written two hundred years later, the book — virtually Manzoni’s only extended prose work — admirably integrates historical scholarship, personal observation of character and place, and political philosophy. The “promised spouses” (the Italian formula for “affianced”) of the title, Renzo and Lucia, are peasants living in a village on Lake Como, near Lecco. What a book! On the first level simply a long, somewhat rambling historical novel about Milan and its surroundings in the seventeenth century, written two hundred years later, the book — virtually Manzoni’s only extended prose work — admirably integrates historical scholarship, personal observation of character and place, and political philosophy. The “promised spouses” (the Italian formula for “affianced”) of the title, Renzo and Lucia, are peasants living in a village on Lake Como, near Lecco. Their marriage is prevented by one of the local nobles who has his own designs on Lucia. After a failed attempt to circumvent that, the couple separate: Renzo goes to Milan, is caught up in bread riots resulting from poverty and drought, and escapes to his cousin in Bergamo; Lucia takes refuge in a convent, is abducted… But enough of plot: I do hope you’ll read the novel, and part of its interest of course is in the suspense. Only a small part, though: those reading the book as a romantic historical novel about a pair of lovers may lose patience with what I think is its true subject-matter, and its intricate interest and importance. Manzoni begins with a foreword it would be wrong to skip, opening in flowery archaic language purportedly quoting an ancient author: History may truly be defined as a famous War against Time; for she doth take from him the Years that he had made Prisoner, or rather utterly slain, and doth call them back into Life, and pass them in Review, and set them again in Order of Battle. After a page of this sort of stuff, set in italics, the author lays down his ancient text and speaks for himself, noting that History too often loses sight of the ordinary men and women who lived through the eras historians deign to consider. He notes, too, the turgid style of the original, alternating between lofty rhetoric and crude dialect. He gives up reading the thing, but quickly thinks “Why not take the sequence of fact contained in this manuscript,” I thought, “and merely alter the language?” There were no logical objections to this idea, and I decided to follow it. And that is the origin of this present work, explained with a simplicity to match the importance of the book itself. So immediately Manzoni’s book takes up a number of contexts: • it was written in 1820-1825 about events of 1620-1630, nearly two centuries earlier (and I read it in 2013, nearly two centuries later) • It attempts to re-introduce the common man into a context generally restricted to elevated historical figures it attends to appropriate language and style And underneath these evident and acknowledged contexts there is another agenda, not particularly well hidden. The book’s action takes place in a politically eventful moment, when Milan and its duchy are controlled by Spain; Bergamo is part of the Venetian Republic; Austria is threatening from the north and northeast; and France has designs on Monferrato in neighboring Piemonte. Furthermore, the action involves the closing years of the long wars between Catholics and Protestants. And, most importantly, the close of the feudal era when lawlessness and exploitation was an accepted aspect of daily life, and the poor but generally honest and respectable contadini and villager was at the mercy of the rich, powerful “nobleman” in his castle on the hill, and his band of thugs and stooges — the “bravos” who do his dirty work. I was drawn into the book first by Manzoni’s marvelous description of its physical setting, the mountains and riverbanks to the south and east of Lecco, country not that different from terrain I’ve spent weeks walking in, fifty or a hundred miles to the west., A poor man, Renzo walks when he must go from Lecco to Milan, from Milan to Bergamo. The parish priest rides a mule; ladies are carried in litters; noblemen ride coaches. In every case the tempo is quite different from ours in the 21st century, and climate, physical nature, and observation of the faces and characters of those one meets are taken more slowly, more contemplatively, and therefore more objectively, at a pace giving time to correct immediate impression, prejudice, and habit. The book should be read at a similar pace, I think; and should be considered while reading and afterward, letting the book bloom in the mind, responding to our time and its own, as a good wine is allowed to bloom in the glass and the mouth, and afterward in sensual memory. The characters in the novel are memorable and attractive, even the villains — stock characters, all of them (young lovers, parish priest and his housekeeper, Cardinal, ruffians, evil nobles), but individuated through description and dialogue. The settings are evoked sometimes through meticulous description, sometimes arresting observation — the Milan cathedral, for example, seen from miles away, at a time when the city was still contained within its walls. The historical events are exciting and resonant: war, famine, plague, all recounted with both mesmerizing immediacy and resonance that inescapably suggests World War II, the Balkan wars, today’s events in Africa and the Middle East. And then there’s the language. Manzoni published the novel in 1827, but within a dozen years revised it out of its original dialect of Italian into the Tuscan dialect centered on Florence — thereby cementing that dialect as standard contemporary Italian. The revision seems to involve mostly simply substitutions of vocabulary, with a few additions or clarifications of text, and virtually no cutting. I haven't yet found what exactly the dialect of the original version is called: it's not Piemontino, though it shares with that dialect certain leanings toward French. "Equal," for example, is eguale in the first version, uguale in the revision. I know this because I found a fascinating edition of the novel online (http://https://archive.org/stream/ipr...), a facsimile (not e-text or digitized text) of an edition (Milano: Domenico Briola, 1888) of the revised version, with the original text inserted in smaller size between the lines. Years ago I bought a fine copy of an old edition of I Promessi sposi, and it turns out to have an interesting history of its own. It was published at Firenze in 1845 by Felice Le Monnier (http://http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...), who based the text on the 1832 edition by David Passigli e soc.. Le Monnier was noted for his contempt for author's rights, and merely pirated the Passigli edition, heedless of Manzoni's subsequent revision into the definitive text. Manzoni sued and was eventually awarded a substantial award. I don't know how large the 1845 edition was, or how the copy I have came to whatever used-book store I bought it in — though a recent New Yorker article on such matters does give me some pause. I read Penman's translation with both the Le Monnier and the interlinear edition at hand, comparing often enough to get the distinct impression that this is a fine translation, idiomatic in English, respectful to the original style, and faithful to the text. Some have characterized the book as a romantic epic, along the lines of Tolstoy's War and Peace — a book I'm embarrassed to say I haven't (yet) read. It would be wrong, though, and perhaps disappointing, to think of it as primarily a narrative about the betrothed Renzo and Lucia: instead, it is — as another reader suggested the other day — an epic, a narrative description of the general state of the soul of a nation. I'm hard pressed to think of another prose example, and I wonder if Manzoni weren't channelling such older epics as Aeneid or Chanson de Roland or Orlando furioso. Whatever, I Promessi sposi is essentially Italian; it speaks from an honest and good heart; it is ample, intelligent, poetic, philosophical, evocative, and revolutionary, and I consider it one of the greatest novels I have ever read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    20% completed. As carefully wrought as a Cellini centrepiece of fine crafted gold, this book - the Great Italian Novel - follows the trials of two star-crossed lovers in a vivid and highly readable tale of malice and innocence, salvation and damnation in the Italian Renaissance. My go-to novel for Escape! I'm reading this VERY slowly... because I never want it to end.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    This is part history and part fiction. The setting is Milan (Italy) sometime in the 17th century. It is said to be universally recognized as the greatest of all Italian novels and is often compared to Tolstoy's "War and Peace." It is also very, very long and contains a lot: a love story, tragedy, suspense, humor, history, war, politics, business, religion, superstition, philosophy, famine, food riots, plague, etc. Remember my review of the Indian behemoth, "A Suitable Boy" by Vikram Seth? A chara This is part history and part fiction. The setting is Milan (Italy) sometime in the 17th century. It is said to be universally recognized as the greatest of all Italian novels and is often compared to Tolstoy's "War and Peace." It is also very, very long and contains a lot: a love story, tragedy, suspense, humor, history, war, politics, business, religion, superstition, philosophy, famine, food riots, plague, etc. Remember my review of the Indian behemoth, "A Suitable Boy" by Vikram Seth? A character there, a writer (and, I suspect, the author's alter ego), loudly mused about how "great" literatures are often of great length also. Maybe Mr. Seth patterned his book after this one. The similarities are intriguing: a. both have actual historical events woven into the stories; b. both cover a lot of subjects; c. "A suitable Boy" starts with a marriage; "The Betrothed" starts with a couple about to get married; d. both somehow end with a marriage; and e. both have touches of humor. Here, there's one about lawyers and their clients: "...(T)he man who tells lies to his lawyer is the kind of fool who'd tell the truth to the judge. A lawyer must be told things frankly; then it's up to us (lawyers) to muddle them up afterwards."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    I was first drawn to this book after hearing the Verdi requiem. Who could possibly have inspired such transcendant music? I discovered that the book played a, if not the vital role in uniting Italy under one dialect. So I went into it with some trepidation. Could it live up to its reputation? For me it most certainly did, but in fact not because it was a "classic" but because it turned out to be a rollicking good read, that entertained and informed. The interjections of history were fine by me b I was first drawn to this book after hearing the Verdi requiem. Who could possibly have inspired such transcendant music? I discovered that the book played a, if not the vital role in uniting Italy under one dialect. So I went into it with some trepidation. Could it live up to its reputation? For me it most certainly did, but in fact not because it was a "classic" but because it turned out to be a rollicking good read, that entertained and informed. The interjections of history were fine by me because they made the context clear and therefore the involvement deeper. I am dismayed that so few English speakers are even aware of this book, let alone to have read it. I don't reread many books, but this is certainly one of them.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Quotations: Before concluding a marriage, we are required to search closely that there be no obstacles. Those who injure others are guilty, not only of the evils they commit, but also of the effects produced by these evils on the characters of the injured persons. "Surely, there's justice in the world." So true is it that, under the influence of great misfortune, men no longer know what they say. Free download available at Project Gutenberg. Thanks to Karen for having recommended this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    The Betrothed is rightfully rated as a treasure in World Literature. Both a wonderful story and a historical documentary set in the vicinity of Milan between 1628-1631, the story line is that of star crossed lovers; but oh the obstacles they faced! I picked it up because I recently discovered that my ancestors survived the 1630 Plague of Milan. But the story of the Great Plague (footnoted with Manzoni's research of contemporary accounts) is only one section of this incredibly rich novel. I thoro The Betrothed is rightfully rated as a treasure in World Literature. Both a wonderful story and a historical documentary set in the vicinity of Milan between 1628-1631, the story line is that of star crossed lovers; but oh the obstacles they faced! I picked it up because I recently discovered that my ancestors survived the 1630 Plague of Milan. But the story of the Great Plague (footnoted with Manzoni's research of contemporary accounts) is only one section of this incredibly rich novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will read it again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Simon Mcleish

    Originally published on my blog here in September 1998. The Bethrothed is probably the most famous work of Italian literature not by Dante Alighieri or Petrarch. The introduction to this Penguin Classics edition compares its influence on Italian culture to an English scene where Charles Dickens wrote only one novel and Henry Fielding and William Makepeace Thackeray had never existed. Its revision by Manzoni into the Tuscan dialect was a major turning point in the establishment of that dialect as Originally published on my blog here in September 1998. The Bethrothed is probably the most famous work of Italian literature not by Dante Alighieri or Petrarch. The introduction to this Penguin Classics edition compares its influence on Italian culture to an English scene where Charles Dickens wrote only one novel and Henry Fielding and William Makepeace Thackeray had never existed. Its revision by Manzoni into the Tuscan dialect was a major turning point in the establishment of that dialect as the standard literary Italian. It is a long historical novel (written in the nineteenth but dealing with the early seventeenth century) with a somewhat melodramatic plot which to an English reader is distinctly reminiscent of Scott. In the early seventeenth century, the duchy of Milan was ruled by Spain, though the Spanish viceroys were unable to check the excesses and crimes of the upper classes, who employed large numbers of thugs known as bravos to get their way. Italy was also subject to famine and periodic epidemics of plague, both of which play a part in The Betrothed. Two villagers, Renzo and Lucia, are on the point of marriage when Lucia catches the eye of local tyrant Don Rodrigo, who threatens the village priest into refusing to marry them. As they flee from Don Rodrigo's bravos, they become separated and get involved with the turbulent events of the Thirty Years' War as it affected Milan. Manzoni mixes his invented characters with real historical figures and their stories with great skill. The main charm of the narrative is not the plot, but Manzoni's ironical tone and frequent asides to the reader. He manages not to overuse this device (unlike most authors who make use of it), carefully controlling his writing so that the reader is not put off.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Gruber

    I read this book, which, shame to say, I had never heard of before, on the recommendation of the Pope, whose favorite novel it is. I had never done this before, but then we never had a Pope who recommended novels before. The Betrothed, or I Promessi Sposi, is a book on the magnificent scale of War and Peace or Moby Dick, and is regarded by cultured Italians as an equivalent achievement. As in many 19th century European novels, the authorial voice dominates the telling of the story, but Mazzoni h I read this book, which, shame to say, I had never heard of before, on the recommendation of the Pope, whose favorite novel it is. I had never done this before, but then we never had a Pope who recommended novels before. The Betrothed, or I Promessi Sposi, is a book on the magnificent scale of War and Peace or Moby Dick, and is regarded by cultured Italians as an equivalent achievement. As in many 19th century European novels, the authorial voice dominates the telling of the story, but Mazzoni has so charming, so civilized a voice that one hardly minds the many interruptions he imposes. The plot, set in the early 17th century in the Duchy of Milan, revolves around two young lovers, two monstrous noblemen who attempt to stop their marriage, and two saintly clerics, one the historical archbishop of Milan, Federigo Borromeo, and the other a Capuchin friar, both of whom attempt to help the young couple. The story plays out against a richly drawn historical background, which includes a famine, a war, and an outbreak of bubonic plague that killed over half the inhabitants of Milan. Religion or the lack of it permeates the novel, perhaps one reason why it does not have, for most educated Americans, the resonance of the other great novels. It's about how Christianity functioned amid the most hellish environment conceivable, and how really evil men deal,with the presence of good in their midst. Good pick, Francis!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Wow, this is an amazing book. It is also very involved. I love all of Manzoni's depictions of human nature through his characters and thought he had some good insights as well. The story line is beautiful and so good and moral. This book is so much more, though. It also delves into much of Italian history and since this was my first ever introduction to Italian history, it was a lot to digest, but also extremely interesting. Apparently the Italians study this book all through their school years, Wow, this is an amazing book. It is also very involved. I love all of Manzoni's depictions of human nature through his characters and thought he had some good insights as well. The story line is beautiful and so good and moral. This book is so much more, though. It also delves into much of Italian history and since this was my first ever introduction to Italian history, it was a lot to digest, but also extremely interesting. Apparently the Italians study this book all through their school years, and it is considered a most important piece of literature. I can see why. I felt quite a sense of accomplishment after reading this book. (What made this book especially challenging for me is that I kept getting interrupted and I had to read several other books before finishing this one--so it took me a while.) Honestly ths is a beautiful book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is up for a bit of a challenge. (This is actually not the translation I read--I read the Dutton published translation by Archibald Colquhoun, but this is the one that I could find in goodreads.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pamina

    As part and parcel of every italian student background, I was first forced to read this book in high school. But I didn't deeply appreciated it since I read it again and again after school. Somehow ironic and dramatic, perfect photography of author's time (although set a couple of century before). Characters are unforgettable. Written in the best italian possible (for me). I now put it in my top ten favorite books.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dimitris

    A long, thick, slow, deep masterpiece.

  20. 5 out of 5

    George

    An interesting, entertaining, enjoyable historical fiction novel set in Northern Italy in the late 1620s. The story is about the difficulties Renzo and Lucia face in getting married. The gangster, Don Rodrigo takes a liking to Lucia and decides to stop the marriage. He threatens to punish the priest engaged to perform the marriage ceremony if the priest allows the ceremony to go ahead. This leads to Renzo and Lucia fleeing their village, having to go separate ways to ensure they are not caught b An interesting, entertaining, enjoyable historical fiction novel set in Northern Italy in the late 1620s. The story is about the difficulties Renzo and Lucia face in getting married. The gangster, Don Rodrigo takes a liking to Lucia and decides to stop the marriage. He threatens to punish the priest engaged to perform the marriage ceremony if the priest allows the ceremony to go ahead. This leads to Renzo and Lucia fleeing their village, having to go separate ways to ensure they are not caught by Don Rodrigo’s men. A number of interesting characters are introduced throughout the story including Father Cristoforo who helps Lucia and Renzo. He is further helped by the evil ‘The Unnamed’ who upon seeing Lucia, becomes a religious convert. A number of major upheavals occur including a workers riot in Milan over the price of bread, a civil war where soldiers ransack villages and ‘the plague’ which results in the deaths of over 70% of the Milan population. This novel was written nearly 200 years ago. It comments on governments oppressing peasants without just consideration for the peasants needs, priests using their powers to outwit local parishioners and fathers forcing their daughters to become nuns. The overall theme of the novel is for people to have faith in overcoming their difficulties and to love their perceived enemies. “Bullies, oppressors and all men who do violence to the rights of others are guilty not only of their own crimes, but also of the corruption they bring into the hearts of their victims.”

  21. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Despite some minor slogging in the deviations that dealt with historical explanations (not that those detracted from the novel), Manzoni's work is entertaining and informative. I stopped often to investigate online the plague in Italy and Milan, and the old maps of Lombardy, Milan and surrounding regions. A fascinating read overall. Alone, the plot is fun and uncomplicated. Add in the historical perspectives and an omniscient but humorously self-aware narrator and you have a great and lasting pi Despite some minor slogging in the deviations that dealt with historical explanations (not that those detracted from the novel), Manzoni's work is entertaining and informative. I stopped often to investigate online the plague in Italy and Milan, and the old maps of Lombardy, Milan and surrounding regions. A fascinating read overall. Alone, the plot is fun and uncomplicated. Add in the historical perspectives and an omniscient but humorously self-aware narrator and you have a great and lasting piece.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lmichelleb

    Though this is a classic I never had heard of before, thankfully other more well-read friends pointed me in the right direction! The characters are well developed, there is much of human nature to ponder, especially as the title couple, and many others, walk their difficult road through suffering and pain. A surprising amount of humor tempered the sorrowful portions of the tale, and all the history woven in just made it come all the more alive. Definitely recommended!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jill Courser

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. I was surprised by the witty commentary of the narrator, as well as the charming rabbit trails into Italian culture. The depth of character development is excellent as well, and overall a satisfying story! My son and I had some good discussions based around the book too, as we were reading it at the same time for his Ambleside Online curriculum.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Abby Ophus

    Great story. I really loved how perceptive Manzoni was about human nature and why people choose to do what they do for good or evil. His analysis of riots and the plague were fascinating and made me want to read the history surrounding the novel to learn more. Fra Cristoforo was my favorite character, great example of a redeemed life and a heart given to God.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tony Gualtieri

    A classic novel written by the man who helped establish the Tuscan dialect as the basis for modern Italian and inspired Verdi's Requiem. The first half is well paced with an engaging story featuring peasant lovers separated by the diabolical plot of a malevolent aristocrat. It loses its way in Catholic sentimentality as the story continues; however, if the reader is patient, he or she is rewarded with a fascinating and evidently accurate description of life during the hysteria caused by the Grea A classic novel written by the man who helped establish the Tuscan dialect as the basis for modern Italian and inspired Verdi's Requiem. The first half is well paced with an engaging story featuring peasant lovers separated by the diabolical plot of a malevolent aristocrat. It loses its way in Catholic sentimentality as the story continues; however, if the reader is patient, he or she is rewarded with a fascinating and evidently accurate description of life during the hysteria caused by the Great Plague of Milan of 1629-1632.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maryam

    Okay I can see why some people would really like this book but I did not:)) The storytelling in this one sort of reminded me of the storytelling in tkam where a lot of focus is on the towns and the individual people along with the main characters. But did I really need to know about how this person became a nun (went on for like 70 pages), the price of bread being too high (went on for 100-150 pages), and the plague killing everyone (100 pages)??? I wasn't very invested in the story to begin with Okay I can see why some people would really like this book but I did not:)) The storytelling in this one sort of reminded me of the storytelling in tkam where a lot of focus is on the towns and the individual people along with the main characters. But did I really need to know about how this person became a nun (went on for like 70 pages), the price of bread being too high (went on for 100-150 pages), and the plague killing everyone (100 pages)??? I wasn't very invested in the story to begin with so this all really dragged the book on and on and on for me. It could have beenmuch shorter than it is. It was ever so drAmAtiC. The whole thing is two people want to get married yeah and they can't bc some dark rich guy is like no and then that's the whole book:). The whooollleee 800 pages (in my case) was them being like oh no we couldnt get married and we want to!! :( and I did not care at all every character was just worse than the other. Also another really annoying thing we legit got like chapter upon chapters of the backstory of a certain character and then they'd play their role (consisting of one line) and then that would be it for the entire book from them. Like what is the literal p o i n t. I think that's what ruined it for me there was no depth to the characters or anything close to it the backstories were just information dumps and not integrated into the story at a l l. Anyways yeah I literally hated Lucia and Renzo because Renzo was the literal stupidest prick. Every single town this idiot went to (and he went to many) he cause some sort of riot and it's like after the 2nd and 3rd time wouldn't you have leARNT but nO he didnt ever learn from anyTHING aT ALL and then Lucia just the most whiniest character ever in my whole entire life. She literally did nothing about anything but be like I'll pray for you and I'll pray for you and all offfff you I'll pray for you. When the plague bit of the story came up iiiiii was literally praying either Lucia or Renzo (or even better both) would die:) But I really liked the writing good job @the translation yall. GLAD IT ENDED.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    It seems that just about everybody recognizes this as the greatest Italian novel, and I agree that it's excellent. But I do think my expectations were a little high for this one. I may have given it five stars if I weren't expecting so much. Published in 1827, I Promessi Sposi takes place 200 years earlier in Spanish-controlled Lombardia in Northern Italy. The novel tracks the fate of a poor engaged couple that is prevented from marrying by a thuggish, libidinous noble who has an eye for the brid It seems that just about everybody recognizes this as the greatest Italian novel, and I agree that it's excellent. But I do think my expectations were a little high for this one. I may have given it five stars if I weren't expecting so much. Published in 1827, I Promessi Sposi takes place 200 years earlier in Spanish-controlled Lombardia in Northern Italy. The novel tracks the fate of a poor engaged couple that is prevented from marrying by a thuggish, libidinous noble who has an eye for the bride-to-be. When the couple's cowardly priest hasn't the nerve to perform his duty in the face of the noble's threats, the couple seeks help from a cleric known for sticking his neck out for the poor and downtrodden. The contrasting levels of dedication, faith, and empathy between these two priests delineate many of the major themes of the novel. The fate of the young betrothed is further complicated by political upheaval in Milan and then a devastating plague. It is Manzoni's treatment of the political climate and the horrors of the plague that really make the book, much like it was Dickens's graphic depictions of Jacobin excesses that really made A Tale of Two Cities. Where Manzoni is not as deft as Dickens is in weaving the history into the narrative. Manzoni writes the historical sections as historical sections, apologetically interrupting the flow of the story and even repeatedly citing historical authorities right in the text. It makes for fascinating reading, but Manzoni could have easily woven the historical detail right in with the story to greater effect. But the novel's ending is very good once Manzoni takes up the thread of his story again. It is a deeply Christian, deeply Catholic book about the force of faith, the enduring power of love, and the nature of personal promises to loved ones and to God. The themes are developed beautifully for the most part, but there are a couple of characters whose profound changes of heart would have been much more effective with a little more character development. On the whole, a great book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert Wechsler

    [1834 translation] I wax nostalgic at the thought that a British geologist could come to America to learn Indian languages, get a charter for the first steam railroad, and translate both Cicero and this great Italian novel of the early nineteenth century. Not only is the uncredited translation by George William Featherstonhaugh excellent, but a digital version of it is free online at Project Gutenberg. I chose to read this novel because I had just made plans to go to Lake Como later this year, an [1834 translation] I wax nostalgic at the thought that a British geologist could come to America to learn Indian languages, get a charter for the first steam railroad, and translate both Cicero and this great Italian novel of the early nineteenth century. Not only is the uncredited translation by George William Featherstonhaugh excellent, but a digital version of it is free online at Project Gutenberg. I chose to read this novel because I had just made plans to go to Lake Como later this year, and this is the great novel of Lake Como. Not that you see much of the lake, but I’m glad I got this opportunity to read a novel I’d barely heard of. Accepting that it is very religious, good vs. evil, and the like, it’s a wonderful, old-fashioned read, especially the first half (if, like me, you’re not into war (described historically) and the plague, you’ll want to skim much of the second half). What makes the novel, besides the quality of this old translation, is the author’s excellent sense of character, motivation, thought process, and self-deception. He also does a great job with the psychological process of personal redemption.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Monty Milne

    "If Dickens had written only one novel, and there had been no Fielding or Thackeray; if his novel had foreshadowed the theme of a successful national liberation movement and had had a profound, lasting and beneficial effect on the English language; then we would have a book that stands out in our literature in the same way that The Betrothed does in Italy". Apt words from the Introduction of the Penguin Classics edition. I loved every page of this. The really surprising thing is that it is a stor "If Dickens had written only one novel, and there had been no Fielding or Thackeray; if his novel had foreshadowed the theme of a successful national liberation movement and had had a profound, lasting and beneficial effect on the English language; then we would have a book that stands out in our literature in the same way that The Betrothed does in Italy". Apt words from the Introduction of the Penguin Classics edition. I loved every page of this. The really surprising thing is that it is a story of kidnap, intrigue, misuse of power, famine, war and plague - and yet instead of being depressing, it is enriching and life-enhancing, and even has flashes of humour. It is quite a long novel (700+ pages), but I read the final third in one sitting - quite unable to put it down, until the fire had burned right down to the embers, and the owls were hooting deep into the October night.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    15 OCT 2014 -- recommended by Karen. Thank you.

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