Day 37The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
March 29, 2023 by Michael F. Moore
“Here, among the poor terrified people, we find a few individuals of our acquaintance.”
A brief reprieve from the march of history.
The Landsknechts, literally “servants of the land,” were the German mercenaries employed by the Holy Roman Empire. The Venetian Republic employed mercenaries of its own, the cappelletti (some claim—especially in Verona!—that the surname Capulet, of Shakespeare’s Juliet, is a translation of Cappelletti).
We finally have another moment with Agnese, prudent rather than scheming, and longing for her daughter in the midst of the exodus from the village.
“The sight of these familiar places made her thoughts more vivid, her sorrow more piercing.”
Even with a marauding army on the way, the tailor still cannot resist little sparks of pedantry (though not on the scale of Don Ferrante):
“I don’t imagine the soldiers will be coming to this village for lodgment—the correct term, I’m sure you know.”
Not to mention his rather perverse false modesty:
“When they got up from the table, he showed her a print of the Cardinal that he had attached to the side of the door, in homage to the man, but also so he could tell anyone who came by, from one who knows, that it didn’t look anything like the man. Because he’d had the chance to see the Cardinal in person, up close and at length, in this very room.”
Despite Don Abbondio’s skepticism (“Converted? But is he truly converted?”), the Nameless One is indeed a changed man.
“Through that voluntary humiliation, his presence and bearing had acquired, without his realizing it, something loftier and more noble, since even more than before, one could see the absence of all fear in him.”
In the disquisition that follows, Manzoni makes an interesting remark:
“In those days, there was a peculiar relationship between Church and State.”