The Italian Almanac


Alessandro Manzoni

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873)

Alessandro Manzoni was an Italian poet and novelist. His great novel "I promessi sposi" (The Betrothed) is generally ranked among the masterpieces of world literature.

He was born in Milan in 1785. His father, Pietro Manzoni, was a rich land owner from Lecco, and his mother, Giulia Beccaria, was daughter of the famous jurist Cesare Beccaria (author of an important treatise on crime and punishment). He attended various catholic schools and his early works were characterized by a strong anticlerical theme and strong support for democratic and Jacobean ideals. He lived in Paris until 1810, when, for family reasons tied to his inheritance, he returned to Italy and married Enrichetta Blondel, first with Calvinist rites and then a catholic ceremony.

His most productive period as a writer was between 1812 and 1815 when he started writing "Inni Sacri" (Sacred Hymns) which he finished in 1822 with the final piece "La Pentecoste". Between 1820 e 1822 he finished two tragedies, "Il Conte di Carmagnola" (Count of Carmagnola) and "l’Adelchi". In his theoretical writings of these years he developed ideas which would later reappear in "Promessi Sposi " (1821-1842). After 1842 he devoted his time almost exclusively to literary theory essays. He was nominated senator of the new italian kingdom in 1861 and was assigned the presidency of the commission for the unification of the Italian language. He died in 1873 after having received his Roman citizenship in recognition of his work for Italian unification.