The Betrothed

I Promessi Sposi
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Penguin Classics
1840
eBook
720
Italian
Bruce Penman
July 31, 2021 August 9, 2021
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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.

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Heart

Heart
Cuore
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Fredonia Books (NL)
1886
Paperback
274
Italian
Isabel Florence Hapgood
March 18, 2018 March 21, 2018

Written following the Italian war for independence by a sub-lieutenant who had fought in the siege of Rome in 1870, Heart is the fictional diary of a boy's third year in a Turin municipal school. It was written to foster juvenile appreciation of the newfound Italian national unity, which the author had fought for in the recent war. The book is often highly emotional, even sentimental, but gives a vivid picture of urban Italian life at that time. A master, introducing a new pupil, tells the class, "Remember well what I am going to say. That this fact might come to pass--that a Calabrian boy might find himself at home in Turin, and that a boy of Turin might be in his own home in Calabria, our country has struggled for fifty years, and thirty thousand Italians have died." The novel became internationally popular, and has been translated into over twenty-five languages, and is part of the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works. Edmondo de Amicis (1846-1908) established a reputation as a writer in various genres after his experience as a soldier.


About the book

This is a book that when I was a child everyone told me “read it”, “it’s a beautiful book for kids” and now that I read it, I wonder how is it that a book so “out of the Italian language” being for children? I need to say that I read this book just because, for the Challenge of Popsugar, I had to read “a book from my childhood that I wanted to read and I never read”, otherwise, as I said on Goodreads where I added all the books that I own, I would have never read it.

First of all, the book was written in the nineteenth century so obviously the Italian is not the Italian of today, so I wonder how a child/boy who has just started his journey in the Italian language can fully understand what is written. Not all the book is like that but if it is not fluent for me because of ancient Italian, how can it be for a boy? How can a child like this book? Now I know why I never read it when I was young, as soon as I started it I gave up.

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