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Encyclopedia > Giorgio Bassani

Giorgio Bassani (March 4, 1916 - April 13, 2000) was a novelist, poet, essayist, editor, and international intellectual. Born in Bologna, he studied at the University of Bologna with the art historian Roberto Longhi, and privately with the historian and philosopher Benedetto Croce.

In 1943 he took part in the anti-Fascist Resistance for which he was arrested in Ferrara in May 1944 and was released in July. He moved to Rome and there edited the literary review Botteghe oscure for Princess Caetani from its founding in 1948 until 1960. He was also an editor of Paragone, a journal founded by Longhi and his wife Anna Band.

He was an editor for the publishing house Feltrinelli (and apparently was the first to recognize the merit of Tomasi de Lampedusa's Il gattopardo), and he served as president of "Italia Nostra." Bassani had previously published novels and collections of poetry, but his career took off in 1956 with a volume of short stories, Cinque storie ferraresi.

He then realized that Ferrara was his real subject matter, with its Christian and Jewish elements and its perspectives and its landscapes, and he produced the series of novels that comprise Il romanzo di Ferrara which includes Dentra le mura; Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini; Gli occhiali d'oro; Dietro la porta; L'airone and L'odore di fieno.

These realistically document the Italian Jewish community under Fascism in a style that manifests the difficulties of searching for truth in the meanderings of memory and moral conscience. He was the recipient of the Veillon, the Strega, and the Viaggio prizes. He collaborated on several screen plays.



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