Alessandro Manzoni

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Manzoni, Alessandro

Manzoni, Alessandro (älās-sänˈdrō mändzôˈnē), 1785–1873, Italian novelist and poet. Taken in his youth to Paris by his mother in 1805, Manzoni embraced the deism that he was later to discard for an ardent Roman Catholicism. He returned to Italy in 1807 and in his later years was a senator. He wrote tragedies, including Il Conte di Carmagnola (1820) and Adelchi (1822), and poetry, such as the Inni sacri (1812–1817) and the celebrated Il Cinque Maggio (1821), an ode on the death of Napoleon. It was in 1821–27, under the influence of Sir Walter Scott, that Manzoni produced his most famous work, I promessi sposi (tr. The Betrothed, 1827), a novel of 16th-century Milan that reveals a detailed understanding of Italian life and remains one of Italy's most enduring novels. By 1875, 118 editions had appeared, and the work was widely translated. After its first issue, however, Manzoni continued to revise the work, publishing a stylistically superior version in Tuscan Italian in 1840. As a result, his influence on the development of a consistent Italian prose style was immense. Verdi wrote his Requiem for the first anniversary of Manzoni's death.


See translations of The Betrothed by A. Colquhoun (1951) and B. Penman (1972); biographies by G. P. Barricelli (1976), S. B. Chandler (1977), and N. L. Ginzburg (tr. 1987); study by S. Matteo and L. H. Peer, ed. (1987).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Manzoni, Alessandro


Born Mar. 7, 1785, in Milan; died there May 22, 1873. Italian writer.

Manzoni was the son of a count. He graduated from an aristocratic higher school in 1805. In his early works, the allegory “Triumph of Liberty” (1801) and the ode “On the Death of Carlo Imbonati” (1806), Manzoni was faithful to the Enlightenment tradition. In the 1820’s he joined the romantic movement (Sacred Hymns, 1812-22, published 1815-23; Letter to Mr. C[hanvert] on the Unity of Time and Place in Tragedy and On Romanticism, both in 1823). Manzoni’s odes “March 1821” and “The Fifth of May” (1821) and the historical tragedies Count Carmagnola (1820; Russian translation, 1888) and Adelchi (1822), imbued with patriotism and love of freedom, were written in the spirit of the Risorgimento.

Manzoni’s best work was the historical novel The Betrothed (1827; Russian translation, 1833). It combined romanticism with a realistic portrayal of the life and historical background of 17th-century Lombardy. Manzoni’s protagonists are ordinary peasants who pit their moral strength against the arbitrary rule of the feudal lords. The ideas of Christian humility do not dampen the novel’s democratic tendencies. The Betrothed occupies an important place in Italian realistic prose of the 19th and 20th centuries. After 1827, Manzoni wrote only theoretical articles on language and literature.


Tutte le opere. Rome, 1965.


Poluiakhtova, I. K., “A. Manzoni.” In Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury XIX veka: Epokha Risordzhimento. Moscow, 1970.
De Sanctis, F. “Manzoni.” In Opere, vol. 10. [Turin, 1955.]
Sapegno, N. Ritratto di Manzoni ed altri saggi. Ban, 1961.
Derla, L. Il realismo storico di A. Manzoni. Milan-Varese, 1965.
Santarelli, G. I cappuccini nel romanzo manzoniano, Milan, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.