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The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles by Giorgio…
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The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles

by Giorgio Bassani

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Novel of Ferrara (book 2)

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» See also 4 mentions

English (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (4)
Showing 3 of 3
On the surface, this is a novel about prejudice against homosexuality before the Second World War in a small Italian town. It begins with a description of a highly respected, wealthy doctor, Fadigati, who is *the* physician to visit and be seen with. But behind this Fadigati is a lonely and distant man, ashamed of his homosexuality, yet unable to fight his urges. As his somewhat deliberately humiliating relationships become ever more public, his reputation slides inexorably downwards. The title of the book reflects this trajectory, with Fadigati sporting a smart, even ostentatious pair of spectacles from the start of the novel, but these get smashed and broken in the middle of it, and washed away by the end.

This, as I say, is the surface story. But it isn't too much of a leap to read homosexuality in completely metaphorical terms. The narrator is Jewish, the holocaust is a few years away, and by the end of the novel racist laws and attitudes are bubbling very much to the surface. So the novel can easily be read as a depiction of how the most respected people in society can be held there by the thinnest of perspectives, and behind this skin a seething hatred can turn things around very quickly.

The fact that you see no seams, that the doctor's slide downwards feels quite gradual and continuous demonstrates a masterly writing skill, and Bassani's skill is further cemented by finding a fresh, interesting way of exploring anti-semitism and the views that turned into one of the most horrific moments in human history. ( )
1 vote RachDan | Oct 31, 2012 |
Interesting short novel, originally published in 1958 and set in 1937-38, in which Bassani draws parallels between a gay doctor's experience of homophobia and the first serious stirrings of antisemitism in fascist Italy. Very nicely done. Jamie McKendrick's translation for Penguin is also stylish and unobtrusive. ( )
  thorold | May 2, 2012 |
This short novel is set in the northern Italian town of Ferrara. It has a strong sense of place: the streets, the landmarks, the churches, the castle and the local football team are referred to throughout, so that the town itself becomes as important as any character in the story. It seems to be a beautiful medieval town; it is impossible not to feel a little wistful at never having ever been there, in order that the named streets could call into my mind the images they were clearly intended to evoke. Continued
  apenguinaweek | May 11, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bassani, Giorgioprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baldacci, LuigiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dijk, Tineke vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKendrick, JamieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montulet, M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quigly, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Met de tijd worden het er minder, maar toch zijn er in Ferrara nog aardig wat mensen die dokter Fadigati hebben gekend (Athos Fadigati, jazeker, herinneren ze zich, de keel-, neus- en oorarts die een praktijk aan huis had in de via Gorgadello, vlak bij het piazza delle Erbe, en met wie het zo slecht is afgelopen, zo tragisch, arme kerel, terwijl hij als jongeman, toen hij zijn geboortestad Venetië verliet en hier kwam wonen, leek voorbestemd tot een heel regelmatige, heel rustige en daarom heel benijdenswaardige loopbaan...).
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