Alessandro Manzoni

Italian poet and novelist (1785-1873)

Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Manzoni (7 March 178522 May 1873) was an Italian novelist, poet, dramatist and critic, most famous for his novel I promessi sposi (The Betrothed).

Politics without history is like a man who walks along without a guide.


  • Non sempre ciò che vien dopo è progresso.
    • What comes after is not always progress.
      • "Del romanzo storico" (1850), in Andrea Tagliapietra (ed.) La storia e l'invenzione (Milano: Gallone, 1997) p. 64; Sandra Bermann (trans.) On the Historical Novel (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984) p. 113

The Betrothed (1827; 1842)

I promessi sposi, [The Betrothed]; Manzoni's first version of this story was written between April 1821 and September 1823 and titled Fermo e Lucia. He then heavily revised and finished it as Gli sposi promessi in August 1825; after two years of corrections and proof-checking, it was first published as I promessi sposi in 1827. Manzoni afterwards revised this into the dialect of Florence for the final revision published in 1842. English quotations and page-numbers are taken from the translation of Archibald Colquhoun (1956), unless otherwise indicated. · The Betrothed (1834), as published by Richard Bentley
  • All'avvocato bisogna raccontar le cose chiare: a noi tocca poi a imbrogliarle.
    • A lawyer must be told things frankly; then it's up to us to muddle them up.
  • È uno de' vantaggi di questo mondo, quello di poter odiare ed esser odiati, senza conoscersi.
    • It is one of the advantages of this world that people can hate and be hated without knowing each other.
  • Ma la pratica generale ha voluto che [la condizione di non dir nulla a nessuno] obblighi soltanto a non confidare il segreto che ad un amico egualmente fidato, e imponendogli la condizione medesima. Così d'amico fidato in amico fidato, il segreto gira e gira per quella immensa catena, tanto che giunge all'orecchio di colui o di coloro a cui il primo che ha parlato intendeva appunto di non lasciarlo giunger mai.
    • The general practice is for the secret to be confided only to an equally trustworthy friend, the same conditions being imposed on him. And so from trustworthy friend to trustworthy friend the secret goes moving on round that immense chain, until finally it reaches the ears of just the very person or persons whom the first talker had expressly intended it never should reach.
  • Ma cos'è mai la storia, diceva spesso don Ferrante, senza la politica? Una guida che cammina, cammina, con nessuno dietro che impari la strada, e per conseguenza butta via i suoi passi; come la politica senza la storia è uno che cammina senza guida.
    • But what is history, Don Ferrante would often say, without politics? A guide who walks on and on with no one following to learn the road, so that his every step is wasted; just as politics without history is like a man who walks along without a guide.
    • Variant translation:
    • "But," said he often, "what is history without politics? a guide who conducts without teaching any one the way; as politics without history, is a man without a guide to conduct him."
      • Richard Bentley translation (1834)
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