The Betrothed (Manzoni novel)

The Betrothed
I promessi sposi - 2nd edition cover.jpg
Title page of 1842 edition
AuthorAlessandro Manzoni
Original titleI promessi sposi
TranslatorCharles Swan
GenreHistorical novel
Publication date
1827 (first version)
1842 (revised version)
(Title pages give wrong date because of delays in publication)
Published in English
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)

The Betrothed (Italian: I promessi sposi [i proˈmessi ˈspɔːzi]) is an Italian historical novel by Alessandro Manzoni, first published in 1827, in three volumes. It has been called the most famous and widely read novel in the Italian language.[1]

Set in northern Italy in 1628, during the oppressive years of direct Spanish rule, it is seen as a veiled attack on the Austrian Empire, which controlled the region at the time the novel was written (the definitive version was published in 1842). It is also noted for the extraordinary description of the plague that struck Milan around 1630.

It deals with a variety of themes, from the cowardly, hypocritical nature of one prelate (Don Abbondio) and the heroic sainthood of other priests (Padre Cristoforo, Federico Borromeo), to the unwavering strength of love (the relationship between Renzo and Lucia, and their struggle to finally meet again and be married), and offers some keen insights into the meanderings of the human mind.

I promessi sposi was made into an opera of the same name by Amilcare Ponchielli[2] in 1856 and by Errico Petrella[3] in 1869. There have been many film versions of I promessi sposi, including I promessi sposi (1908),[4] The Betrothed (1941)[5] The Betrothed (1990),[6] and Renzo and Lucia, made for television in 2004.[7]

In May 2015, at a weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis asked engaged couples to read the novel for edification before marriage.[8]

Writing and publication

Manzoni hatched the basis for his novel in 1821 when he read a 1627 Italian edict that specified penalties for any priest who refused to perform a marriage when requested to do so.[9] More material for his story came from Giuseppe Ripamonti's Milanese Chronicles.[1]

The first version, Fermo e Lucia, was written between April 1821 and September 1823.[10] He then heavily revised it, finishing in August 1825; it was published on 15 June 1827, after two years of corrections and proof-checking. Manzoni's chosen title, Gli sposi promessi, was changed for the sake of euphony shortly before its final commitment to printing.

In the early 19th century, there was still some controversy as to what form the standard literary language of Italy should take. Manzoni was firmly in favour of the dialect of Florence and, after "washing his vocabulary on the banks of the Arno" (as he put it), he revised the novel's language for its republication in 1842.

Other Languages
العربية: المخطوبون
čeština: Snoubenci
emiliàn e rumagnòl: I promessi sposi
español: Los novios
Esperanto: La gefianĉoj
français: Les Fiancés
hrvatski: Zaručnici
magyar: A jegyesek
Nederlands: I promessi sposi
português: Os Noivos
русский: Обручённые
slovenščina: Zaročenca (roman)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: I promessi sposi
svenska: De trolovade