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Day 23

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Chapter 17

March 15, 2023 by Michael F. Moore

This chapter is perhaps the novel’s deepest dive into Renzo’s conscience. As he makes his way in the dark, cold and frightened, he enters into an extended interior monologue. Lucia is usually considered the introspective one, but here we get a glimpse of Renzo’s thought process.

“Me? Raise hell? Me, kill all those gentlemen? I’d give my eye teeth to find myself face-to-face with that merchant on the other side of the Adda (whenever I do finally cross that blessed river!)… So watch what you say next time, especially about your fellow man.”

Amplifying his thoughts is the savage landscape through which he walks:

“The trees in the distance looked like strange, twisted monsters. He was unnerved by the shadows cast by the swaying treetops, which quivered on the trail between patches of moonlight. Even the rustling of leaves underfoot was unbearable.”

Here’s what he might be hearing.

Finally, the Adda:

“As he stood still, no longer crushing the leaves underfoot, everything around him fell silent. He started to hear a sound, a murmuring, the murmuring of running water.”

Here is the river, in Gonin’s rendering and in a painting by G. Carnovali from 1859:

“‘God’s will be done,’ was his answer to the most distressing thoughts. ‘God’s will be done. He has a plan. He is thinking of us, too.’”

The word “Providence” is invoked several times in this chapter, most noticeably in the last sentence:

“And it truly was Providence, because we are about to see how hard it would be for Renzo to get back the belongings and the money he had left at home.”

Ask an Italian and he or she will tell you that the main theme of the novel is “la Provvidenza Divina.” I am not sure I agree: Do we see God’s hand resolving the various “imbrogli” that occur, or should we credit, instead, human ingenuity?

An Italian poet once told me that Americans couldn’t appreciate The Betrothed since we didn’t understand Divine Providence. I replied, “I was born in Providence!” (Providence Rhode Island, that is!)

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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