The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Rating 9.0/10
Deservedly a classic that all should read.

Alessandro Manzoni’s 1827 “I Promessi Spori” (The Betrothed) is, apparently, mandatory reading in Italian schools. Having come to it some two decades after many of my Italian colleagues I could see why within two chapters. It possesses the linguistic craft of Victor Hugo and the narrative excitement of Alexandre Dumas, with fleeting nods to the gothic of Ann Radcliffe and the chilling spiritual observations of Charles Maturin. For all its re-working of contemporary literary greatness, the pellucid prose is as simple as its peon characters, yet imbued with an instruction that makes us both wonder in amazement and nod in sage agreement. At its heart it is a casual narrative of good versus evil, of innocence and love combating bitter age and hatred. Yet, it is also a great story and it is this final quality that bestows its longevity.

In a sense the novel is both a historical epic and a journey of philosophy, touched with the bizarre you might find in Voltaire.

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