Classics, Fiction, Historic Fiction
July 31, 2021 August 9, 2021
Beat the Backlist, Library Love, Mount TBR, The Backlist Reader
Set in Lombardy during the Spanish occupation of the late 1620s, The Betrothed tells the story of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, prevented from marrying by the petty tyrant Don Rodrigo, who desires Lucia for himself. Forced to flee, they are then cruelly separated, and must face many dangers including plague, famine and imprisonment, and confront a variety of strange characters—the mysterious Nun of Monza, the fiery Father Cristoforo and the sinister “Unnamed”—in their struggle to be reunited. A vigorous portrayal of enduring passion, The Betrothed‘s exploration of love, power, and faith presents a whirling panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life and is one of the greatest European historical novels.
“The 19th-century Italian literary classic renowned for its vivid descriptions of the 1630 pestilence that gutted Milan.” —The New York Times
“Compulsory reading for Italian high school students, The Betrothed gives a historically accurate account of the bubonic plague that wiped out a quarter of Milan’s population in 1629-1631.” —Politico
“This is not just a book; it offers consolation to the whole of humanity.” —Giuseppe Verdi
About the book
The Betrothed is the first novel written by an Italian author and is a milestone in our literature. Everyone, or almost everyone, studied this book in high school, especially those who attended a “liceo” (I’m not going to explain the difference among all the high schools we have) or an advanced technical institute (usually in the second grade which is 10th grade for non-Italians).
With Manzoni, Italian fiction adapts to the modern reality already present in France and England for more than a century, thus guaranteeing the return of our literature in Europe after a crisis that lasted more than two centuries.
Two cultural strands converge in The Betrothed: the Lombard Enlightenment which aims to bring the intellectual closer to society and the Romanticism with its attention to national history. Without Manzoni there would have been no history of the novel in Italy.