Manzoni, Alessandro (älās-sänˈdrō mändzôˈnē) [key], 1785–1873, Italian novelist and poet. Taken in his youth to Paris by his mother in 1805, Manzoni embraced the deism that he was later to discard for an ardent Roman Catholicism. He returned to Italy in 1807 and in his later years was a senator. He wrote tragedies, including Il Conte di Carmagnola (1820) and Adelchi (1822), and poetry, such as the Inni sacri (1812–1817) and the celebrated Il Cinque Maggio (1821), an ode on the death of Napoleon. It was in 1821–27, under the influence of Sir Walter Scott, that Manzoni produced his most famous work, I promessi sposi (tr. The Betrothed, 1827), a novel of 16th-century Milan that reveals a detailed understanding of Italian life and remains one of Italy's most enduring novels. By 1875, 118 editions had appeared, and the work was widely translated. After its first issue, however, Manzoni continued to revise the work, publishing a stylistically superior version in Tuscan Italian in 1840. As a result, his influence on the development of a consistent Italian prose style was immense. Verdi wrote his Requiem for the first anniversary of Manzoni's death.
See translations of The Betrothed by A. Colquhoun (1951) and B. Penman (1972); biographies by G. P. Barricelli (1976), S. B. Chandler (1977), and N. L. Ginzburg (tr. 1987); study by S. Matteo and L. H. Peer, ed. (1987).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.