Italy’s greatest novel and a masterpiece of world literature, The Betrothed chronicles the unforgettable romance of Renzo and Lucia, who endure tyranny, war, famine, and plague to be together.
Published in 1827 but set two centuries earlier, against the tumultuous backdrop of seventeenth-century Lombardy during the Thirty Years’ War, The Betrothed is the story of two peasant lovers who want nothing more than to marry. Their region of northern Italy is under Spanish occupation, and when the vicious Spaniard Don Rodrigo blocks their union in an attempt to take Lucia for himself, the couple must struggle to persevere against his plots—which include false charges against Renzo and the kidnapping of Lucia by a robber baron called the Unnamed—while beset by the hazards of war, bread riots, and a terrifying outbreak of bubonic plague. First and foremost a love story, the novel also weaves issues of faith, justice, power, and truth into a sweeping epic in the tradition of Ivanhoe,Les Misérables, and War and Peace. Groundbreakingly populist in its day and hugely influential to succeeding generations, Alessandro Manzoni’s masterwork has long been considered one of Italy’s national treasures.
Alessandro Manzoni was born in 1785 near Lake Como, Italy. Sent to boarding school at the age of five, he felt estranged from his family, particularly when his mother left his father. As a young man Manzoni subscribed to the… More about Alessandro Manzoni
“This is not just a book; it offers consolation to the whole of humanity.” —Giuseppe Verdi
“[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