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.