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.