The Betrothed

The Betrothed

I Promessi Sposi

Introduction by: Bruce Penman
Translator: Bruce Penman

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140442748
  • 720 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


Set in Lombardy during the Spanish occupation of the late 1620s, The Betrothed tells the story of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, prevented from marrying by the petty tyrant Don Rodrigo, who desires Lucia for himself. Forced to flee, they are then cruelly separated, and must face many dangers including plague, famine and imprisonment, and confront a variety of strange characters – the mysterious Nun of Monza, the fiery Father Cristoforo and the sinister ‘Unnamed’ – in their struggle to be reunited. A vigorous portrayal of enduring passion, The Betrothed‘s exploration of love, power and faith presents a whirling panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life and is one of the greatest European historical novels.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


 “This is not just a book; it offers consolation to the whole of humanity.”
—Giuseppe Verdi
“[Manzoni is] the only Italian literary figure whom his countrymen consider worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Dante . . . It is almost impossible to accept this book as a first novel. Through the virtuosity with which its creator deploys and refines his raw materials, the story of Renzo and Lucia . . . consistently transcends its considerable potential for sentimentality . . . The mélange of tones, styles and methods within the book makes the experience of reading it one of the most rewarding—and simultaneously most challenging—in nineteenth-century fiction.”
—from the Introduction by Jonathan Keates
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