Cover image for The Manzoni family
The Manzoni family
Ginzburg, Natalia.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Famiglia Manzoni. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Seaver Books : Distributed by Holt, 1987.
Physical Description:
358 pages, 3 unnumbered leaves of plates : map, portrait, genealogical table ; 24 cm
General Note:
Translation of: La famiglia Manzoni.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ4715 .G4713 1987 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The Italian novelist takes on a task and topic that are entirely new for her in this biographical study of the family of nineteenth-century Italian literary figure Alessandro Manzoni. Using documentary letters and other historical sources, Ginzburg reconstructs the outlines of the Manzoni genealogy and details the strife and passion that defined their lives. While the focus of the book is on Alessandro and his stormy relationship with his family and the women he loved, the author also considers a number of fascinating minor characters whose lives reveal the tumult of their period and social class. Ginzburg's style can be a bit choppy in the purely narrative sections, but she manages to compose some brilliant passages that combine quotations and commentary with a special literary insinuation. Ginzburg is also the author of The City and the House (Booklist 83:1177 Ap 1 87). List of characters, map; no index. JB. 853'.7 Manzoni, Alessandro-Biography-Family / Manzoni family / Authors, Italian-19th century-Biography-Family [CIP] 87-9892

Publisher's Weekly Review

As social history, with something of the flavor and immediacy of fiction, this story of a famous family stretching from 1762 to 1907 is interesting and well done. The book skillfully stitches together biographical facts and numerous family letters, the latter showing how, during the Napoleonic era, the risorgimento and beyond, the Manzonis, and to an extent upper-class Italians in general, thought, felt, aspired and suffered (the premature death rate among the Manzonis was appalling). The disappointments here are that few of the men and women in Ginzburg's crowded gallery are memorable for their personalities or achievements. Even Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), the main focus, comes through more vividly as a distracted family man than as the man of letters and author of the famous romantic novel I promessi sposi. Ginzburg, an Italian member of parliament, is the author of All Our Yesterdays. (November 30) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Although Tolstoy maintained that ``happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,'' contemporary readers of this work will identify with the illnesses of children, deaths of relatives, and all-too-frequent filial requests for money that confronted Italian literary giant Alessandro Manzoni, author of I Promessi sposi . Based on the family's voluminous correspondence, Ginzburg's portrayal is personal rather than literary, focusing on Manzoni family members; but a vivid picture of 18th- and 19th-century Italy and the literary scene in 19th-century Paris also emerges. Thus, it corrects the imbalance created by Archibald Colquhoun's standard work, Manzoni And His Times (1954). Highly recommended. Marcia G. Fuchs, Guilford Free Lib., Ct. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The family nucleus has always been the focus of Ginzburg's writing, as in her Family Sayings (CH, Jan '68), the free reconstruction of her own bourgeois Turinese family. In the preface to that book she counseled that although everything in the story was true, it should be read as a novel. The same is true of her recomposition from documents and letters of the Manzoni family from the birth of Giulia Beccaria, mother of Manzoni, in 1762, to the death of his stepson, Stafano Gamba, in 1907. The historical events of the time-the Napoleonic occupation, the stirrings of the Risorgimento, and Manzoni's role in it-are of no interest to the novelist. More important to her are the record of births and deaths, illnesses, relationships and all the uneventful but real events in a Lombard family of the 19th century. She is much more interested in the young Alessandro, his early abandonment by his mother and later affectionate reunion with her in Paris, than she is in Alessandro Manzoni, author of I promessi sposi, turning her attention at that point in the author's career to his neglected and unhappy children and to friends of the family. What makes this story so fascinating is Ginzburg's clever editing of the historical documents and her own unobtrusive comments, done in her famous spare, elliptical style, in the manner of Chekov. The flattest phrase may take on the most extraordinary vividness in her narrative, more strikingly in her own language than in translation. The original Italian edition had a marvelous series of glossy plates of portraits of the Manzoni family, of which only one is reproduced here. The translator supplies a useful annotated list of characters at the end in weak compensation. Appropriate for community college students and lower-division undergraduates.-C.E. Fantazzi, University of Windsor