On Manzoni's Great Novel, I Promessi Sposi, aka The Betrothed.
It's interesting that Italian in Manzoni's Day did not use a single word for the title, but instead used "The Promised Bride". What a drama the promised spouse arouses! The action is immediate, vibrantly Italian; everything is now. It is like the "one" in funk music, the way every musician must come in on the same note at the same time in perfect unison: every incident hits the one in Manzoni's novel, time and time again. Manzoni's novel gives new eyes to see Stendhal's novels. In fact, all the following writers must have read and understood something of "the Italian" in this book; it is quintessentially Italian! I am reminded also of the "Leopard" of Lampendusa. This novel, located at moment before Italian unification, comments surreptitiously on the earlier masterpiece which is located in a time when lawlessness reigned. The rule of law in Lampendusa, and the failure of law in Manzoni, are opposing dramas at the two ends of history of the Italian people. This novel merits high praise. It is remarkably fresh. It never misses a beat. I first bought the translation from the 1950s by Colquohon. Don't. Buy instead the modern Penguin translation by Penman.