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Day 22

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Chapter 16

March 14, 2023 by Michael F. Moore

Renzo’s flight from the authorities, with the encouragement of the passersby, echoes the much earlier flight of Ludovico to the monastery (Chapter 4).

During this period, Bergamo—which is in the region of Lombardy today—belonged to the Republic of Venice, and thus under the jurisdiction of a separate state. The map at the beginning of the book illustrates the borders between the various states, duchies, and republics into which northern Italy was divided.

In his rustic innocence, Renzo gave an inflammatory speech, believing for a moment that everyone in the crowd was a friend. Now his peasant wariness kicks in, and he regards the citizens with greater circumspection. I love the way he sets about asking for directions, a strategy I am sure many of us have adopted when we don’t know where we’re going:

“And in these dire straits, Renzo had to scrutinize about a dozen faces before he could find one that was reassuring. There was the portly gentleman standing in his shop doorway, legs spread wide, hands behind his back, belly out, chin up, and a fat wattle draped below it. Seeming to have nothing better to do, he alternated between raising his tremulous mass on tiptoe and rocking back on his heels. But he had the appearance of a nosy windbag who, rather than give an answer, would have only asked more questions.”

The accompanying illustration is no match for this Dickensian description.

To thrust the escape from Milan into high relief, Manzoni switches to the present tense:

“Renzo arrives in Piazza del Duomo. As he crosses it, he passes a pile of ashes and spent coals, and recognizes the remains of the bonfire he witnessed the day before. He walks by the steps to the Duomo and sees the Forno delle Grucce again, half demolished and guarded by soldiers. And he goes straight down the road from which he had come with the mob. He reaches the Capuchin monastery. He casts a glance at the piazza and the door to the church, and says to himself, sighing, ‘I should have listened to what the friar told me yesterday: Stay in church, wait, and do a good deed.’”

In this chapter, the biggest threat to Renzo is nosy people.

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

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