Shopping Cart



Day 11

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Chapter 8 (to end)

March 3, 2023 by Michael F. Moore

“Some ran, some squeezed their way through the crowd to escape. A second man arrived who had seen the bravi making their getaway, and shouted, ‘Hurry, boys, hurry! Someone’s making off with a pilgrim. Thieves or bandits. They’ve already left the village. After them! After them!’ At this announcement, without awaiting their captain’s orders, the crowd swarmed down the street. While this army advanced, some of the leaders deliberately slowed their pace, allowing the men behind them to come to the front while they themselves disappeared into the rear. The motley crew finally reached its destination.”

One of the first instances of Manzoni describing a crowd scene. Not even Dickens captured the chaotic energy of the mob so effectively. This is also one of the first appearances in the novel of the word “confuso” and its variants (confusa, confusi, confusion): I counted 129 instances of them in the novel, and had to handle each in a different way. The motley crew is a “sciame confuso,” confused swarm, but I chose to gift the verb “swarm” to the earlier sentence, and use this more common and comical expression.

Some rules are meant to be bent!

“At that the sacristan could no longer contain himself. Taking the padre aside, he whispered in his ear, ‘But, Padre, Padre! At night… in the church… with women… closing… the rules… but, Padre!’ and he shook his head. As he listened to the man struggling to get the words out, Padre Cristoforo thought, ‘Will you look at this. Had it been a fugitive from justice, Fra Fazio wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But a poor innocent girl, escaping from the clutches of a wolf… ’ ‘Omnia munda mundis,’ he said, suddenly turning toward Fra Fazio, forgetting that the man did not understand Latin.”

Padre Cristoforo does not deliberately use Latin to bully the other man, unlike Don Abbondio in his first confrontation with Renzo. Literacy and illiteracy, in either Latin or Italian, as what we might call a status symbol, underlies the entire novel, written, as I mention in the introduction, in part to modernize Italian and bring the written language closer to the spoken.

Page 140. “Farewell mountains…” This passage concludes the first part of the novel.

When I presented the book at the NYU Casa Italiana in October, I had this passage read by an actor friend, Demosthenes Chrysan. His voice broke in the middle, at the image of a village left behind, of a migrant forced to leave his homeland. When I read it myself at a public presentation a week later, the same happened to me. Which leads me to think of how in translating, we have to mix the cerebral and the emotional, the Apollonian and the Dionysian: the rational ability of the mind to find semantic equivalences, and the sentimental capacity of the heart to feel and express the emotions being conveyed.

The latest TV adaptation, with a score by Ennio Morricone, mixes the male and female voices in an interesting way.

Daily Reading

A Preview

A Preview

Day 1

Introduction & Chapter 1 (through pg. 13: "were still around.")

Day 2

Chapter 1 (to end)

Day 3

Chapter 2

Day 4

Chapter 3

Day 5

Chapter 4

Day 6

Chapter 5

Day 7

Chapter 6

Day 8

Chapter 7 (through p.108: “respective ranks.”)

Day 9

Chapter 7 (to end)

Day 10

Chapter 8 (through p.130: “the others filed behind him.”)

Day 11

Chapter 8 (to end)

Day 12

Chapter 9 (through p.151: “are also quite capable.”)

Day 13

Chapter 9 (to end)

Day 14

Chapter 10 (through p.174: “her closest relatives.”)

Day 15

Chapter 10 (to end)

Day 16

Chapter 11 (through p.193: “keep track of it.")

Day 17

Chapter 11 (to end)

Day 18

Chapter 12

Day 19

Chapter 13

Day 20

Chapter 14

Day 21

Chapter 15

Day 22

Chapter 16

Day 23

Chapter 17

Day 24

Chapter 18

Day 25

Chapter 19

Day 26

Chapter 20

Day 27

Chapter 21

Day 28

Chapter 22

Day 29

Chapter 23

Day 30

Chapter 24 (through p.396: “as soon as you’re ready.”)

Day 31

Chapter 24 (to end)

Day 32

Chapter 25

Day 33

Chapter 26

Day 34

Chapter 27

Day 35

Chapter 28 (through p.467: “their hands from hunger.”)

Day 36

Chapter 28 (to end)

Day 37

Chapter 29

Day 38

Chapter 30

Day 39

Chapter 31

Day 40

Chapter 32 (through p.534: “purpose of the conflict.”)

Day 41

Chapter 32 (to end)

Day 42

Chapter 33 (through p.554: “treatise on political economy.”)

Day 43

Chapter 33 (to end)

Day 44

Chapter 34 (through p.574: “the living were left.”)

Day 45

Chapter 34 (to end)

Day 46

Chapter 35

Day 47

Chapter 36

Day 48

Chapter 37

Day 49

Chapter 38

Sign up for A Public Space's Newsletter