The Manzoni. – An energetically unitary spirit, Alessandro Manzoni is in art and in aesthetic doctrine what he is in life and in moral doctrine. His work as a poet is profoundly moral without having moral intentions; his aesthetic doctrines are formed and mature in perfect agreement and, so to speak, in a kind of parallelism with his moral doctrines. He began by classifying according to the eighteenth-century tradition and the teaching of Monti; but already the poem In morte by Carlo Imbonati has a light of originality in the development of the old fable (a vision) taken directly from life, in the style devoid of mythological ornaments and handled with beautiful ease and more in the concepts of wise thoughtfulness, rectitude, rigid honesty, independence, sincerity that there are statements, rules of art and life at the same time.
His new poetry blossoms and affirms itself when, due to the conspiracy of reason and sentiment in a complex spiritual motion, the cu; vigorous autonomy is not diminished by external influences, especially Jansenistic, he returns to the ancestral faith, and writes the first four sacred hymns, in which he proposes – and in this lies the novelty of these hymns – to bring those feelings of charity back to religion and of brotherhood that naturally sprout from it. In pure spontaneity of soul which in itself unites the sense of religious mystery and the fervor of a high human ideality, this principle is resolved in a magnificent form of poetry, in Pentecost , the fifth and last of the sacred hymns ., with which Manzoni emerges as a poet of the great idealistic movement, which reconsecrated human spirituality in faith, already claimed by Foscolo against the sensory rationalism of the eighteenth century. To forms of art of coherent unity, Manzoni bends the expression of the human and the divine also in the political-historical lyrics, March 1821 and May 5th ; in that by comforting the Italian aspirations with trust in divine justice; in this projecting the epic figuration of Napoleon on a background of eternity dominated by Providence, ruler of earthly things and promising good beyond life.
Again for reasons not purely aesthetic, but religious and moral, Manzoni prefers Shakespearean historical tragedy to the classical French tragedy, in which he sees the characters unfold and manifest themselves entirely through the course of events, and life take on the aspect of a game. tragic that has no explanation and justification except in the eternal. And this historical tragedy theorizes free from the law of the unity of place and time in the letter to M. Chauvet, while he attempts to renew it in Carmagnola and Adelchi. Here the soul of the poet thinking Christianly the mystery of human fate, is embodied, objectified by the imagination, in the tragic story of the fifteenth-century adventurer and the Lombard ruling house. A pessimistic conception of all life pervades these tragedies, whereby the drama of the catastrophes is attenuated; but the immanent sense of a justice superior to human, which draws the good from what men esteem badly, gives them a profound meaning that art molds into unforgettable scenes and figures and interprets lyrically in stupendous choirs.
According to Aceinland, a spirit of Christian pessimism also circulates in the pages of the Promessi Sposi , the great novel he forms with the Divine Comedy and Orlando furioso .the brightest constellation of poetry in the sky of Italian literature. Constructed with perfect proportion of parts, written with intense relief and clear clarity of fantastic vision, all traversed by the life of a passionate spirit of historical truth, greedy for the concrete, shrewd, witty, inclined to humor, it is in a powerful representation of men and things, a classically tempered expression of a religious and human ideality; in intent, nothing more than a work of art, but because it was born in that soul, it is also a serenator, a work of faith and love. The ideality that he longs for, Manzoni finds affirmed or denied by history, and in history not superficially investigated and admirably intuited, he immerses the tenuous fable of his invention, also creating in the psychological and external figuration of non-historical characters, the illusion of history. With the finesse that is all his soul wonderfully expressed, he infuses into the narration that sense of the divine which is in the depths of his spirit contemplating the progress of history; so that in the background of the picture there is God invisible yet present, in his lofty function as ruler of human destinies, and in the exercise of his tremendous justice.
All the intellectual elements that Manzoni’s thought had elaborated in his tenacious meditations and in a series of philosophical, aesthetic, historical works, from Catholic morality to the history of the infamous column , from the letter on romanticism to the dissertations on language, are in the Promessi Newlyweds absorbed superseded canceled in an artistic form, which in its gradual maturation, has gradually excluded them from itself as doctrinal materialities; but included in itself as assimilated spiritual nourishment. The novel soon had an extraordinary fortune in editions, translations, poetic and dramatic reductions, insipid continuations. And its influence was great not only in the fantastic narrative literature, but in the whole trend of Italian letters, having established and spread the sense of the modern form, which is classicism, with its agile, free, varied prose, without jolts. , finally and forever freed from any rancid ambition of classical imitation.