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The Betrothed 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. 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.
About the Author
COUNT ALESSANDRO MANZONI was born at Milan, Italy, March 7, 1785. He was educated at Lugano, Milan, and Pavia, and after taking his degree he joined his mother in Paris, where he found her in the circle of Mme. Condorcet and the surviving rationalists of the eighteenth century. These associations led him for a time into scepticism, but he was later converted to Catholicism, and remained a steadfast adherent of that faith till his death, defending it in his writings against the Protestant historian Sismondi. Manzoni was a warm sympathizer with the aspirations of his country toward political independence, but he took no very active part in public agitation. When Italy was at last free, he was made a Senator and awarded a pension. He died at Milan, May 22, 1873.