alessandro manzoni the betrothed
Manzoni’s time and the lives of Renzo and Lucia are linked. The moment he arrived, he fell ill and was taken to the hospital, where a dark swollen lump, a bubo, was found under his armpit, leading his attendant to suspect the true cause. So I went into it with some trepidation. At the beginning of a vast mortality, in which the victims cannot be identified by name but only vaguely indicated by the thousands, a strange curiosity arises to know the names of the first few carriers that can be recorded and conserved: as if the distinction of being the first to die in the extermination lends a fatal and memorable quality to the names and otherwise quite ordinary details. There is of course much more that could said about this entertaining and complex novel (and indeed many commentators have), however there is no substitute for actually reading it and so as not to diminish the pleasure of the reader who has not encountered it before, I will say no more about its plot. Finally, plague without doubt and beyond question. Dante sees himself as a "citizen of the world". Conflicts between others and within the individual are exhibited well throughout the story. And every time I've only gotten up to 100 pages, in all of these times, I felt like the characters were really, well, stereotypical and a bit fad. The reason: I began it in the wrong time, that is, when I had many other responsibilities. Yet for me these two places will always be connected, for I was born in one and have grown up and lived in the other. That Franciscans have been so important in the middle age, and Saint Francesco ideology is still important today, and that the relation between power and oppressed classes were an important issue in the Italian unification. Another insightful pen portrait in The Betrothed, is that of Gertrude. No one however directly said to her: you must become a nun. Yet, not too long ago neither were there any "Italians" in the way we understand it today; and nor was there a single "Italian" language. As Manzoni unfolds the narrative we see her desperate struggles to evade her fate, as she comes to understand that it is not what she wants for herself. The Betrothed, or I Promessi Sposi, is a book on the magnificent scale of War and Peace or Moby Dick, and is regarded by cultured Italians as an equivalent achievement. Some of that resentment was also directed at other doctors who, likewise convinced that the contagion was real, suggested precautions to be taken and tried to convey their terrible certainty to all. In the 1840s that literary world still spanned several countries, as Italy did not yet exist as a single polity. They came back to the city with the grim certainty that these measures would not be enough to redress and stop the course of a disease that was already so advanced and widespread. For example, if you read in the first pages of a coward priest, who chooses to serve the strong rather than to defend the weak, compare it with the analogous descriptions of the Name of the Rose, or listen to some of the discussions around the social role of the Church fueled by pope Francesco. It also delves into much of Italian history and since this was my first ever introduction to Italian history, it was a lot to digest, but also extremely interesting. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. I’m just wishing I would have read it years ago. I read this book, which, shame to say, I had never heard of before, on the recommendation of the Pope, whose favorite novel it is.


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