I Promessi Sposi…The Betrothed
Alessandro Manzoni, remembered for his masterpiece, I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), written in 1827, was hailed at the time as the greatest writer since the Renaissance. This novel defined the Italian language as we know it today and helped to form a unified Italy. Such was his stature in Italian society that, at his death in 1873, Giuseppe Verdi wrote his brilliant Requiem in this author’s honor.
I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) is the most famous and widely read novel of the Italian language. Based in northern Italy in the early 17th century, during the oppressive years under Spanish rule, it is a veiled attack on the Austrians who controlled the region at the time.
For me, the extraordinary description of the plague that struck Milan in 1630 was incredible and magnificently done. Another extraordinary description is of the famine and the bread riots.
The unwavering love between Renzo and Lucia and the struggle of these betrothed to meet again and get married offers insight into the human mind. In Italy, the novel is considered a masterpiece of the Italian literature. It is one of the great European novels of the 19th century, and I recommend it not only for literature, but also for study.