Dedicated to classics and hits.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Alessandro Manzoni 

The Betrothed
by Alessandro Manzoni
p. 1827
this translation 1834
Kindle/Amazon Digital Services Edition

   You would think that every classic would have such a densely written Wikipedia Entry as The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni, but such is not the case.  The Betrothed is often called the first historical novel in Italian history- published in 1827, it was not long in appearing in English translation, with a specifically American translation appearing seven years earlier.   On the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list, Alessandro Manzoni is a one-hit wonder.  The Betrothed itself is tedious in exactly the same way as Sir Walter Scott's novels are.  The laborious use of the past as the setting for a novel in the early 19th century equated with the use of "period y" sounding writing.  THAT MEANS ITS BORING TO READ.

  The consciously antique y language might have been a sensation in the early 19th century, but it's fair to say that Modern readers prefer the clean lines of Jane Austen to the clunky anachronisms of Sir Walter Scott and his followers.   Placing this book outside of the "followers of Sir Walter Scott" category requires considering non-literary factors like the historical role of The Betrothed in fomenting Italian nationalism.  Not to belittle that role, but it's outside the aesthetic concerns of this blog.

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