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Potomac Books


On the Historical Novel, On the Historical Novel, 0803230842, 0-8032-3084-2, 978-0-8032-3084-2, 9780803230842, Alessandro Manzoni Translated by Sandra Bermann, , On the Historical Novel, 0803282265, 0-8032-8226-5, 978-0-8032-8226-1, 9780803282261, Alessandro Manzoni Translated by Sandra Bermann

On the Historical Novel
Alessandro Manzoni
Translated by Sandra Bermann

1984. 134 pp.
$30.00 s
Out of Print
1996. 134 pp.
$15.00 s

Alessandro Manzoni was a giant of nineteenth-century European literature whose I promessi sposi (The Betrothed, 1928) is ranked with War and Peace as marking the summit of the historical novel. Manzoni wrote “Del romanzo storico” (“On the Historical Novel”) during the twenty years he spent revising I promessi sposi. This first English translation of On the Historical Novel reflects the insights of a great craftsman and the misgivings of a profound thinker. It brings up to the nineteenth century the long war between poetry and history, tracing the idea of the historical novel from its origins in classical antiquity. It declares the historical novel—and presumably I promessi sposi itself—dead as a genre. Or perhaps it justifies I promessi sposi as the climax of a genre and the end of a stage of human consciousness. Its importance lies both in its prospective and in its retrospective contributions to literary debate.

Sandra Bermann is a professor of comparative literature at Princeton University and the author of The Sonnet over Time: A Study in the Sonnets of Petrarch, Shakespeare, and Baudelaire. Her introduction illuminates Manzoni’s career and his historical and contemporary significance. Manzoni’s original notes are retained and expanded, and additional notes are supplied for present-day readers.

"The essay itself and the translator’s commentary are valuable to anyone interested in Manzoni, the historical novel, or the criticism of fictional and quasi-fictional modes. Manzoni’s essay is concerned with the dilemma created by mixing history with invention."—New York Times Book Review

"The translation is eminently readable and should contribute to increased understanding of a significant debate in nineteenth-century European literary history."—Library Journal

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