The Betrothed, cornerstone of European literature
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The Betrothed

Alessandro Manzoni - Early 19th century

One of the most important novels in Italian literature, “I Promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed) is a literary expression of Italy’s Risorgimento (the struggle for independence) and the Romantic period.

Some of the historical works of reference that the writer used for his book are shown in the third hall of the Manzoni Museum. The book itself was published in 1840, with illustrations by Francesco Gonin and other great draughtsmen and printmakers of that time. The first version of the book dates to 1823, with the title “Fermo e Lucia,” printed in a series of registers. The final version can be dated to between 1840 and 1842, when it was published in instalments.

Many of the names and sentences used in this famous novel have become stock phrases in contemporary Italian, such as “perpetua”. Perpetua was Don Abbondio’s housekeeper, and today the name is used to indicate a priest's housemaid.

Another example is the famous sentence “Questo matrimonio non s’ha da fare” (This marriage can never be).


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