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Day 6

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

Chapter 5

February 26, 2023 by Michael F. Moore

The palace of Don Rodrigo seems like something straight out of an English Gothic novel. (The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe—who had never been to Italy—was wildly popular throughout Europe.) Manzoni acknowledges the theatricality of this scene immediately. And what a place. Grotesque villagers. An almost windowless façade. The dead vultures nailed to the door.

The palace of Don Rodrigo rose, isolated and severe, like a fortress atop one of the hills scattered along and rising above the lakeshore. The anonymous author (who should have simply told us the name of the place)…

Even more grotesque, perhaps, is the assembly of gentlemen Padre Cristoforo finds gathered around the dinner table, absorbed in a debate about chivalry. The rulers of society are all there: Don Rodrigo and his cousin Count Attilio; the mayor or podesta; the lawyer; Professor Argle-Bargle; and two sycophantic guests. “The only thing our manuscript says about them is that all they did was eat, nod their heads, laugh, and agree with everything one guest might say that was not contradicted by another.” As we found out through the story of Padre Cristoforo’s father, the wrong joke or remark at the dinner table could get you banished from society. And what were the gentlemen debating? Whether the chivalric code allows you to shoot the messenger (a bad omen for Cristoforo, the flesh-and-blood messenger appearing at their table).

And from this provincial gathering we learn of larger events, the War of the Mantuan Succession, a kind of proxy war between Spain and France for a small duchy in northern Italy that would eventually involve the Holy Roman Empire. These provincial potentates boast of their acquaintance with the two opposing statesmen, the Count-Duke Olivares of Spain and Cardinal Richelieu of France, but they can’t even get their names right.

Page 80. How does Padre Cristoforo navigate his way through the riddle thrown at him? “How does one respond to arguments based on wisdom so ancient yet so new? By saying nothing. Which is exactly what our friar did.”

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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