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Giorgio Bassani


Born in Bologna into a well-to-do Ferrarese family of Jewish origin, Giorgio Bassani grew up and completed his secondary education in Ferrara, the city in which all his works of fiction are set.
Giorgio Bassani

After the Second World War he moved to Rome where he began to write. He is most famous for his fiction, which culminates in "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis" (1962). In his works all facets of the Estense city exist side by side: the Ferrara of the Jewish community and that of Catholic culture, the city of the rich middle-classes and that of the more humble classes. The locations, streets and squares mentioned in his novels are ordinary, real places but acquire special meaning: Corso Ercole I d’Este is not just the main thoroughfare of the Renaissance city, but "straight as a sword" leads towards the house of the Finzi-Continis; the wall around the castle "where the pavement follows the Castle moat in a straight line" (from "A Night in 1943") regains its dark, dramatic colours of the night when eleven of the town’s citizens were slaughtered there; the Mura degli Angeli is a nice place to stroll, today as it was then, but is also the place where the leading character of "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis" takes refuge when he finds out he has failed in mathematics: "I stopped under a tree, one of those ancient trees, limes, elms, horse chestnuts...". These and many other places, such as the synagogue with its plaques in memory of the deportations mentioned in "A Plaque in Via Mazzini" and the house in which he was born, described in the novella "Behind the Door", appear in his work. The fascination in searching for the places linked to the events that Bassani narrates lies in being able to actually compare fantasy with reality: the ordinary, real place is filtered by our memory and loaded with rich and meaningful emotions.



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