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Giorgio Bassani (1916–2000)

Author of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

45+ Works 3,462 Members 94 Reviews 9 Favorited

About the Author

The main theme of Giorgio Bassani's novels and short stories, which have earned him wide acclaim outside Italy, has been the advent of anti-Semitism in the provincial Italian city of Ferrara during World War II. Earlier he had a successful career as an editor with a major publishing house, being show more credited with helping to bring to public notice The Leopard by Tomasi Lampedusa. Bassani edited a literary magazine and was director of the Italian radio-television network. His first collection of short pieces was A City on the Plain, written under the pseudonym Giacomo Marchi. His volumes of poems were finally collected and published in 1963. The stories and novels that were to make him famous abroad began to appear in the 1950s. They include A Prospect of Ferrara (1960), and The Gold Rimmed Spectacles (1960). A film version of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1962) by Vittorio De Sica has become a public television classic. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Giorgio Bassani

The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles (1958) 354 copies
Within the Walls (1956) 242 copies
The Novel of Ferrara (1973) 217 copies
The Heron (1970) 196 copies
Behind the Door (1964) 183 copies
The Smell of Hay (1972) 111 copies
Opere (1998) 15 copies
Una notte del '43 (2003) 10 copies
Novelle del novecento: an anthology (1966) — Contributor — 10 copies
Lida Mantovani 8 copies
Epitaaf (2019) 8 copies
I capolavori (2010) 6 copies

Associated Works

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis [1970 film] (1970) — Original novel — 48 copies
Open city : seven writers in postwar Rome (1999) — Contributor — 48 copies
The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature (2005) — Contributor — 24 copies
Italien erzählt : elf Erzählungen — Author — 5 copies


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Common Knowledge



Group Read, July 2016: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis in 1001 Books to read before you die (July 2016)


In the Garden of the Finzi-Continis is excellent.
VictorHalfwit | 4 other reviews | Feb 19, 2024 |
This is a collection of short stories and other snippets. The racial laws of 1938 have separated Bruno Lattes, a minor character from The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, from the Catholic girl he loved, and he tries to renew their friendship. Orthodox, Eastern European Jews flee to Ferrara. The narrator meets some of the privileged young men from his youth: they had such plans, but they stayed in Ferrara living the lives they swore they would escape. Behind every story is the fate of the Jews of Ferrara. In 1942-1943, all the remaining Jews in Ferrara, over a hundred, were sent to Germany and only one survived.… (more)
pamelad | 3 other reviews | Feb 2, 2024 |
The Novel of Ferrara: The Heron by Giorgio Bassani

The Novel of Fera is a collection of six books in which the narrator looks back on Jewish life in Ferrara before and during WWII. This book, the fifth, differs from the previous four in that it is recounted in the first person by a named narrator, and is set outside Ferrara. The middle-aged Edgardo Limentani is a disappointed man. His wife, a Catholic peasant whom he feels is beneath him, is having an affair with her accountant. She is the nominal owner of Limentani's properties, an arrangement put in place at the outbreak of WWII. Limentani has a young daughter, but he is alienated from her and isn't sure whether he really is her father.

The story takes place over one day. Limentani has arranged a day's duck shooting in a swamp outside Ferrara, near a village where his cousin, once his closest friend, lives. He hasn't seen his cousin since before the war. The day starts badly, with Limentani being delayed by a conversation with his wife. As the day goes on, his own lethargy and apathy delay him further. He focuses on his misery, his bodily functions, and his disgust for himself, his surroundings and the people he meets. When he eventually meets his guide, hours late, and the shooting begins, the death of a heron brings him a revelation.

The Heron was so very depressing. Limentani is an unsympathetic character, but Bassani makes his misery real and the clumsy translation can't quite dull the intensity. I so wish that a better writer had translated this book.
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pamelad | 5 other reviews | Feb 2, 2024 |
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani is the third book in The Novel of Ferrara, an elegy for the Jewish community of Ferrara. Bassani saved his parents and sister from the invading Germans, but the rest of his family died in the Holocaust, as did the rest of the Jewish community. We're told at the beginning of this semi-autobiographical novel that the Finzi-Continis died in a concentration camp in 1943.

The narrator is unnamed, so for convenience I'll call him Giorgio His family is integrated into the fabric of Ferrara; they observe Jewish rituals but see themselves as Italians as well. By contrast, the extremely wealthy Finzi-Continis hold themselves aloof from both the Jewish community and the wider Ferrarese community. Micol and Alberto Finzi-Contini, both of a similar age to Giorgio, are educated by tutors in their huge, opulent mansion outside Ferrara, which is surrounded by many acres of walled garden. Micol and Giorgio first meet at the wall, when they about ten years old. She invites him in, but he dithers too long and it's ten years before they meet again, brought together by Mussolini's racial laws of 1939. Jews have been banned from the tennis club, so Micol and Alberto invite the Jewish ex-members and their friends to play on their home court. Every afternoon for the summer, the young people play tennis, and a close friendship develops between Giogio and Micol. Outside the garden Anti-Semitism spreads and the danger for Jews increases, but the people behind the wall ignore reality. It's not just them: the Jews of Ferrara refuse to believe that their Italian friends will turn on them.

There is such a feeling of temporariness. Giorgio, Alberto and another man have academic conversations about films and literature. Alberto takes great pride in his possessions. Giorgio fancies himself in love with Micol. To the reader it all seems so pointless, because we know what's going to happen.

There was too much academic chit-chat for my liking and the translation is a bit clumsy, but I found The Garden of the Finzi-Continis well worth reading. Bassani was there.
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pamelad | 54 other reviews | Feb 2, 2024 |



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