Set in Lombardy in the years 1628-30, The Betrothed tells the dramatic tale of two young lovers in a time of war, famine, and plague. Following them through exile and suffering, it displays great richness of characterization and a profound insight into the workings of history and the politics of the time. First published in 1827 as I promessi sposi, The Betrothed is the first modern Italian novel. Alessandro Manzoni was born in Milan to a noble family in 1785; although he was also a poet, he remains best known for The Betrothed. He died in 1873. David Forgacs is a Lecturer in Italian at Cambridge University; he is the author of Rethinking Italian Fascism and A Gramsci Reader. Matthew Reynolds is a Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.