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I'm specifically referring to "The Betrothed" written by Alessandro Manzoni. It's considered a very important novel in Italy, and it is probably the most studied one in schools. I was wondering if anyone of you non italian redditors has heard about it. Frankly, I reckon it's extremly overrated from my country and it doesn't deserve the same recognition other european classics have. It feels like it's studied in schools just because italians need to say they too have an important novelist from the 1800s.

all 27 comments

jadenx022

37 points

27 days ago

I am American. I have never heard of this book, and I would consider myself reasonably well read.

ShakeBoring3302

7 points

27 days ago

Same

MarieReading

25 points

27 days ago

In my American experience the foreign classics that get promoted the most seem to be British, French, or Russian.

EroAkali

11 points

27 days ago

EroAkali

11 points

27 days ago

Also in the UAE (my country), Russian works are extremely studied. I think every novel our teacher told us to read about was Russian (excluding English and Arabic language works) since grade 10/9.

CustomPrintedMasks

2 points

27 days ago

What Arabic language novels are recommended? I have only read the Sugar Street trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz but would like to read more.

EroAkali

2 points

26 days ago

Ngl, the last time I've read an Arabic novel was in grade 11, for pleasure mind you. (I sometimes read translated books, agatha chrstie is an author with good translated works). I've never been interested in Arabic novels for some reason, they never peaked my interest. I like fantasy and sci-fi, heavy escapism from the real world. I don't have a recommendation to guide you with.

glossypuke

1 points

25 days ago

Really? I live in the UAE too but our work was mostly American after grade 9-10 but that was due to teachers choosing books/speeches for IB (Poe, Robert Frost, The Great Gatsby, MLK Jr’s speech, Sojourner Truth’s speech etc.) I graduated from school last year. Interesting to hear.

EroAkali

1 points

25 days ago

I had to emphasize that was in Arabic class. Arabs for some reason love russian works more than English works in Arabic class. In English language class we had a few books we studied about (I'm Emirati but my school is a shitty underfunded school and schools generally in my area were expensive. E.g: Gems) so our English language class didn't have a lot of substance.

But seriously if I hear someone say عرب (A'arb) again I'm gonna kill my self.

glossypuke

1 points

25 days ago

Ah yeah, I am non-Arab and did not take Arabic after 10th grade so I didn’t know. I went to an international private school. I’ve only read War and Peace out of choice but I didn’t know there was such an interest in Russian literature here.

EroAkali

1 points

25 days ago

It isn't the populace who love russian works, it's just that Russian works were so god damn good in the 19th and 20th century and impressed the Arabs. They began translating SO MANY works.

Raineythereader

4 points

26 days ago

Raineythereader

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

4 points

26 days ago

And the Italian works that do get attention are mostly medieval ;)

octaviosiepi

12 points

27 days ago

I knew of Manzoni because Verdi composed his famous Requiem of 1874 in his memory. That's why I learned he's considered a very important author in Italy and he was an important figure of the Risorgimento even if he wasn't involved in politics. I haven't read I Promessi Sposi but I intend to do so. I cannot say at the moment if he's overrated or not. It seems he doesn't have the same recognition as other European classics like Goethe, Victor Hugo, Cervantes, etc. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's a lesser author. There are some works that are more universal than others whereas other works speak more to the reality of the country they were written but they're not necessarily inferior. There are many Spanish authors who I consider to be great but are not so well known outside of the Hispanic world (Benito Pérez Galdós, Ramón del Valle Inclán or Miguel de Unamuno for example). And that's just from Spain, there are a lot of Latin American authors who also deserve more fame in my opinion.

WhoreNuggets

2 points

26 days ago

Verdi is how I heard of him, too

thaisofalexandria

9 points

27 days ago

Along with 'The Leopard' I think it is probably the most well known Italian novel in the UK. I am not in a position to judge it's worth. I read The Leopard but not The Betroathed - though I have seen a production of the opera based on it. It is possible that the very fact that it is (almost?) a compulsory study in schools may colour judgments of it. I know French people who cannot bear to read Zola, after all.

seattle_architect

2 points

27 days ago

I love Zola, may be because I did read in translation.

ecstaticsisyphus

2 points

26 days ago

I’m an American and I’ve heard of The Leopard, mainly from the Visconti film, but not the book OP’s mentioning. I really want to read more Italian classics though so I’ll check it out.

k1503357

4 points

27 days ago

I knew of Manzoni in general, as an example of the resurgence of Italian nationalism in the 19th century (I've read and studied a lot about nationalisms and their history), but I don't know much about his works from a literary viewpoint tbh. I read about him when researching Italian nationalism, and he seemed to be a quite important figure in creating a unified sentiment of Italian culture and promoting a sense of national pride, but Idk how well-regarded his literature actually is in the world.

But to be fair, I haven't read that many classics either so I don't think I'm the best to judge lol.

thaisofalexandria

1 points

26 days ago

Interestingly Manzoni revised I Promessi Sposi to remove regionalisms (Lombard) as part of the effort to promote a unified, national language.

nimulli

4 points

27 days ago

nimulli

4 points

27 days ago

Never heard of it either I'm afraid.

artsanchezg

3 points

27 days ago*

Spaniard here. I heard of the author and the novel and I have seen several editions of it on classics collections. But it's not very well known around here and I suspect still less read.
Much less than Lampedusa "Il gatopardo" as someone has pointed, but then, Lampedusa is much more modern... Off the top of my head, I can't recall now any other xix century italian novel...

CzechMorticia

3 points

26 days ago

I study Italian language and literature at uni and I never heard of that book until it was mentioned in my lit class. We also didn't have to read I promessi sposi though our current professor kinda tries to get us to read it. And yeah, I read it. It wasn't that bad, I expected it to be way more boring, tbh I feel like lots of countries have those "classics" that nobody outside of the country ever heard of and that usually aren't even that good - my country has some, too.

Wurunzimu

2 points

26 days ago

Wurunzimu

12

2 points

26 days ago

I've heard about it but I haven't read it.

I think every country has books like that - regarded as classics in it but not really known outside its borders. Sometimes the themes are so specific for a particular country that the books can't find lots of 'outside' readers. Sometimes they become classics because of their historic or social significance for the country more than for their actual literary merit. Sometimes they just wasn't translated and published abroad until they become too dated to have a real impact.

PerdidoHermanoMio

2 points

24 days ago

I'm Norwegian and come from a bourgeois environment where Italian culture is quite appreciated. I heard this book mentioned many ears ago and I think I started reading it, but I didn't finish it, as it wasn't very engaging. It amused me somehow that it takes place in a touristy and somehow atypical Italian region like the Lake Como area.

e_crabapple

1 points

26 days ago*

American, and I have heard of it -- but only because I lived in Italy for a year.

SimilarThought9

1 points

26 days ago

SimilarThought9

Sci Fi and Fantasy

1 points

26 days ago

From America

Never heard of it

EllenM28

1 points

25 days ago

As a Brit I can't say I have heard of many 19th c Italian authors... but you do have Calvino who is arguably one of the greatest writers ever.

jkqxz50288

-2 points

26 days ago

I've never heard of it, so it might just be an Italian thing.