Giorgio Bassani’s six classic books, collected for the first time in English as the epic masterwork they were intended to be.
Among the masters of twentieth-century literature, Giorgio Bassani and his northern Italian hometown of Ferrara “are as inseparable as James Joyce and Dublin or Italo Svevo and Trieste” (from the Introduction). The Novel of Ferrara brings together Bassani’s six classics, fully revised by the author at the end of his life.
Set before, during, and after the Second World War, these interlocking stories present nuanced and unforgettable characters: the respected doctor whose homosexuality is exposed by an exploitative youth; the survivor of the Nazi death camps; the Jewish landowner, returned from exile, to find himself utterly displaced; the schoolteacher whose Communist idealism challenges a postwar generation.
Suffused with new life by acclaimed translator and poet Jamie McKendrick, The Novel of Ferrara memorializes a city deeply informed by the Jewish community to which the narrator belongs. This seminal work seals Bassani’s indomitable reputation.
About the Author
Giorgio Bassani (1916–2000) was a renowned Italian author, editor, and critic who spent his youth in Ferrara. After brief imprisonment for anti-Fascist activities, he remained in Rome until his death.
Jamie McKendrick is a poet and translator born in Liverpool and living in Oxford, England.
André Aciman is the author of several novels including Call Me by Your Name, Find Me, and Harvard Square, the memoir Out of Egypt, and two books of essays. He is also the editor of The Proust Project. He teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he directs the Writers’ Institute. Aciman lives with his wife and family in New York City.
A book of immense pathos, eloquence, elegiac splendor.
— Harold Bloom
The power of Bassani’s writing is such that, for a moment, his transitory world seems beautifully everlasting.
— Sam Sacks
Essential reading for anyone thirsting for an understanding of the complex density of Europe’s multicultural inheritance.
— Fernanda Eberstadt
By connecting with [Giorgio] Bassani’s souls, and sometimes by even becoming one (or all) of them, McKendrick brings to life—anew—the miracle of translation.
— John Florio Prize for Italian translation shortlist citation
[Bassani] could rightly place himself among the great Italian realist writers.… McKendrick is alert to Bassani’s cosmopolitanism and deep affinity for the English literary tradition, and doesn’t obscure the allusions Bassani certainly intended.
— Laura Kolbe
The fiction of this most dispassionate, most merciless and clear-eyed chronicler of the sequences and consequences of history?in stories almost always about the city’s decisions about whom to include or exclude as its own?is, in the end, against all the odds, a declaration of love.
— Ali Smith
Sitting beside the author watching a fire blaze—destructive, beautiful, and above all compelling—is largely how it feels reading Bassani’s work.
— Tim Parks
As a mirror held up to Bassani’s generation, The Novel of Ferrara embodies a cautious optimism about how much this generation–and the ones to follow–might learn from its forebears’ mistakes. In its clear-eyed realism about the limits to such learning, as well as in the empathy with which it insists on pursuing it, Bassani’s Novel is a remarkable achievement.
— Marta Figlerowicz
Bassani’s monumental elegy to the city’s doomed Jewish community restores the dignity that it is owed even as it compels us to relive the devastation endured.
— Diane Cole
In a new translation by Jamie McKendrick, [The Novel of Ferrara] conveys a feeling of haze and depth, a sense of an old and inscrutable magic no less entrancing for often being dark.
— Talya Zaks