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The Betrothed: I Promessi Sposi (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 6, 1984
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“This is not just a book; it offers consolation to the whole of humanity.”
“[Manzoni is] the only Italian literary figure whom his countrymen consider worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Dante . . . It is almost impossible to accept this book as a first novel. Through the virtuosity with which its creator deploys and refines his raw materials, the story of Renzo and Lucia . . . consistently transcends its considerable potential for sentimentality . . . The mélange of tones, styles and methods within the book makes the experience of reading it one of the most rewarding—and simultaneously most challenging—in nineteenth-century fiction.”
—from the Introduction by Jonathan Keates
Text: English, Italian (translation)
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Top customer reviews
This novel has taken its place as the most distinguished novel of modern Italy, and his been translated into nearly all the literary languages. It is mandatory reading in Italian high schools. Furthermore, it has taken its place among the great novels of the world, not merely for its admirable descriptions of Italian life in the 17th century, but still more for its faithful and moving presentation of human experience and emotion. Manzoni is a keen observer of the human heart. It was the first Italian historical novel and has been said to be the Italian equivalent of "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. Manzoni did a lot of historical research in preparation for writing this novel.
The plot of this love story is simple as is the action. The beauty and originality of the work comes in the development of memorable cast of characters. The author is a skillful painter of individual portraits. Manzoni shows great knowledge of the human heart and the mysterious workings of God. The themes of the novel are Christian redemption, forgiveness, and "All things work together for good for those who love God."
The book is made up of 37 chapters and 338 pages. The story begins with two men who meet in the street fighting over silly pride--one man kills the other. The one who does this repents for what he has done. To make up for his wrong doing, he joins a monastery--and spends the rest of his life serving the poor. His name is Friar Cristoforo.
Don Abbondio, the cowardly parish priest, refuses to wed Lucia and Renzo, as promised, because of the threat to his life by Don Rodrigo, the town bully, who has taken a fancy to Lucia. This cowardly act by Don Abbondio sets off a series of misadventures and sufferings which make up the rest of the story.
Eventually, Lucia is kidnapped by Don Rodrigo's men and is held in the palace of an unnamed villain. Lucia is in such terror that she makes a vow to God that she will remain a virgin if she ever is rescued. Her heartfelt prayers and pleas for mercy lead to the conversion of the unnamed villain who then spends the rest of his life doing good for the townspeople. He showers his kindness on Lucia and her mother Agnese.
Renzo runs away to Milan during a famine and gets himself in trouble for eating stolen loaves of bread he finds on the street. He rails against the authorities for this shortage of bread. He barely avoids being hung by the authorities. He has to go and live in in exile away from his homeland for a couple of years. He is a weaver and plies his trade in his new location.
The plague strikes Milan and the surrounding areas and is devastating. Don Rodrigo dies from the plague in an awful way. Friar Cristoforo absolves Lucia of her vow. Lucia weds Renzo. Friar Cristoforo also dies in caring for people with the plague.
Three priests are portrayed in the novel. It is interesting to contrast them: the cowardly and comfortable parish priest, Don Abbondio, the sublime figure of Friar Cristoforo, and the holy and kind Archbishop of Milan, Federico Bormeo.
Clearly, I plan to read this great work again to once more appreciate its characters and themes.
Couldn't say in all honesty that either of the main characters appealed to me either 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.
There is, however, the 13 digit ISBN number on the back cover, 9781484891988, --and on the very last page "Made in the USA - San Bernadino, CA - 10 July 2016" --the same exact date as my Amazon order! I am disappointed with Amazon doing business with a partner such as this. --"This" publisher which has no name.
I have since ordered this book from reliable Penguin Books.
Most recent customer reviews
Instead I read about the plague, pestilence,
And horrid priest. one courage priest.
How the rich and ......Read more