Day 2The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
Chapter 1 (to end)
February 22, 2023 by Michael F. Moore
Page 17. So much for the decrees! “The moment a decree appeared, the violent found new, more opportune means, through their power, to continue doing exactly what the decrees had sought to repress.”
Page 18. Before introducing his main characters, the “genti meccaniche” of the working class, he lists the social hierarchies protected from the law through their clans: the clergy, the nobility, the military, the merchants and skilled craftsmen, the jurists and “even the doctors.” And what of the “genti meccaniche”? I’m reminded of our own culture’s dismissive use of the term “unskilled laborers” for people who actually know how to do things with their hands.
Page 18. Don Abbondio. “A clay pot forced to travel in the company of many an iron kettle.” I love this image! Manzoni, like Dickens, can conjure up a character in just a few words. But in the moral universe that the author will describe, how should we judge this village priest? Some consider him the Italian everyman. Hmmm.
Page 20. “Dear readers, all twenty-five of you…” He makes me smile just after describing the frightening moment that will set the plot in motion.
Perpetua, a character so memorable that her name has come to be used as a common noun to describe the maid of a priest. “Show your teeth!” Who, Don Abbondio?