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Summary

Considered the first historical novel, this timeless masterpiece from the father of modern Italian literature is a sweeping portrait of foreign occupation, plague, famine, and war - now in the first new English-language translation in 50 years, featuring a preface by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri.

The Betrothed is an inextricable thread in the fabric of Italian culture, one of the most influential works in the Italian literary canon, and required reading in Italian schools. Published in 1827 but set 200 years earlier, it is considered the first iteration of the historical novel; Edgar Allen Poe declared it “a work which promises to be the commencement of a new style in novel-writing” in 1835. But, until now, it has remained relatively unknown to US audiences. 

The novel is the story of two young lovers, forced to flee their village after a dangerous and powerful man threatens their marriage and their lives. But Manzoni draws on historical events to weave a much wider tapestry: He brings to vivid life Spanish occupation during the Thirty Years' War, the bubonic plague, famine, politics, religion, poverty, class tensions, and a colorful cast of characters, all of which provide an unforgettable portrait of Italian life and society. But within Manzoni's epic tale of 17th-century Italy, listeners will spot powerful echoes of our modern day: the consequences of government negligence, entrenched divisions of wealth and privilege, a country gripped by panic as an unstoppable illness spreads. 

Michael F. Moore's superb new translation turns a welcome, accessible, and engaging spotlight onto Manzoni's enduring legacy and his timeless literary masterpiece.

Public Domain (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“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)

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