Sunday, April 2, 2017

Invitation to Join in Reading Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis


Image from Vittorio De Sica's film version of Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini (1970)

Dorian (Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau blog) and I have been discussing for some time a group effort at taking on Italian writer Giorgio Bassani's 1962 novel, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. This work is the most well-known of Bassani's novels, which collectively form his "Ferrara Project," an interlacing narrative cycle about his native Ferrara, each volume of which nonetheless stands on its own. 

The story centers on Ferrara's Jewish community during the 1930's, and in particular around the middle class narrator and his increasing fixation on Micòl, daughter of the aristocratic Finzi-Contini family, whose garden and tennis court become a sanctuary for several of the city's young Jews under Mussolini's Fascism and the Race Laws of 1938. Bassani's intensely personal novel - his own father was among the nearly 200 Ferrarese Jews deported to concentration camps in 1943 and murdered there - stands among the most powerful acts of witness to the Holocaust. 

Three English translations of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis exist, by Isabel Quigley, William Weaver, and Jamie McKendrick. Dorian and I will both be reading the Weaver translation. We plan to post about the novel the week of May 22, and invite all of you to join in reading the book with us. 


8 comments:

  1. It's a cautious 'yes' from me. I actually have an copy of the Weaver translation of this on one of my TBR shelves, so I shall try to get my act together for the end of May. No promises though, as there are times when I encounter reader's (or blogger's) block if I'm not in the right frame of mind for a particular book - nevertheless, let's see how it goes!

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    1. Understood. But I do hope you'll join!

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  2. If only it was another book. It may sound strange but this is my favourite novel, so I'm beyond wary of reading reviews of it or rereading it. If time permits, I'll read another book by Bassani and write about it that week. That would make it a sort of Bassani week.

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    1. For one's favorite novel - and I can well understand how this book could be one's favorite novel - that does not sound strange at all. There are some works about which one feels fiercely protective.

      I encourage your idea of reading another Bassani work, especially since they link with one another. This will be my second reading of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. I have also read The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles (which makes an appearance in Garden). I'm especially interested in Bassani's book of short stories, also a part of his Ferrara project, so there's one more suggestion.

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    2. Great idea. It would be wonderful to have some context for Garden.

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  3. Although I think I'm too scattered this year to join you and Dorian & Co. in May, I look forward to the various posts since I very much enjoyed the movie adaptation of Garden when I saw it ages ago. A fine choice for a group read if I do say so myself. Happy Bassani reading to all of you!

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    1. I'm sorry you won't join, Richard, but I know you'll be here in spirit. And having seen the film, you can always swoop in to leave some comments!

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