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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Story of the Betrothed (The)
by Umberto Eco
Age Range: 9-11
Renzo and Lucia are about to be married, but events conspire to prevent them from doing so. On the eve of their wedding the parish priest Don Abbondio is walking home when he is accosted by two unsavory characters who warn him not to perform the marriage on the order of the local baron Don Rodrigo who has forbidden it. Renzo is told by the priest that the marriage must be postponed but he cannot bring himself to tell him why. This sets in motion a chain of events that keep Renzo and Lucia apart. Will they ever get back together again?
The Betrothed, (I promessi sposi) is an Italian historical novel by Alessandro Manzoni. It has been called the most famous and widely read novel of the Italian language taking 20 years to write from 1821 to 1840. Set in northern Italy in 1628 during the years under Spanish rule, it is sometimes seen as a veiled attack on Austria which controlled the region of Lombardy at the time the novel was written.
This story of star-crossed lovers has been refreshingly retold by Umberto Eco, one of Italy’s most famous contemporary writers and it sings along as he narrates the tale. Eco has made The Betrothed readable condensing it from a tome of 720 pages to just a mere 100 pages. The seamless translation of Stephen Sartorelli, together with the lovely pen-and-ink watercolour illustrations by Marco Lorenzetti makes this an appealing book.
The Story of The Betrothed is part of the ‘Save the Story’ series, a selection of classic stories from around the world that have been retold for today’s children. The series was conceived by Italian writer Alessandro Baricco working in close collaboration with the Scuola Holders in Turin, founded specially to develop new and innovative ways of telling stories.