Originally published between 1909 and 1917 under the name "Harvard
Classics," this stupendous 51-volume set-a collection of the
greatest writings from literature, philosophy, history, and
mythology-was assembled by American academic CHARLES WILLIAM ELIOT
(1834-1926), Harvard University's longest-serving president. Also
known as "Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf," it represented Eliot's
belief that a basic liberal education could be gleaned by reading
from an anthology of works that could fit on five feet of
bookshelf. Volume XXI features the 1827 novel I Promessi Sposi (The
Bethrothed), by Italian writer ALESSANDRO MANZONI (1785-1873),
considered the most beloved work in the Italian language. A
historical romance inspired by Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, it is
the tale of lovers Renzo and Lucia and their quest to be together.
Beautifully evocative of its 17th-century setting, it is noted for
its dramatic depiction of plague-addled Milan.
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