Original Title: I promessi sposi
Manzoni has the gift of vividly describing the innermost motives of his characters and their actions, how they strive towards light and goodness and also descend to the depths of evil, their courage and cowardice, selflessness and selfishness. Bright, exemplary figures and dark, inhuman ones can be found in all classes: among the common people, nobility and also servants of the churches.
In some places the narrator deviates from his main characters over numerous pages and acts as a “history professor,” adding detailed background information on the time: the rampage of the Thirty Years’ War, the famine and how and why the plague spread so easily in Milan.
Among other things, I was impressed by how the tyrannical head of a criminal organization (nowadays we would call them Mafiosi) is so shaken by the nature and behavior of the kidnapped young woman (whose kidnapping he himself ordered) that he turns into a protector of the weak and poor.
And in the case of another girl, it is painful to see how parents use pressure and unfair means to ensure that their young daughter must ‘voluntarily’ decide to go to a cloister in order to become a nun.
Due to the book’s style of writing and how detailed it is, it is more suitable for not-so-young readers. The book has become more topical than ever since the Corona virus began spreading to every country in 2020 and … can affect anyone.
“Manzoni helps us think good thoughts … He has sentiment, but he is devoid of any sentimentality “ (Goethe)