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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il romanzo di Ferrara #3)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  2,342 ratings  ·  138 reviews
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

Giorgio Bassani's acclaimed novel of unrequited love and the plight of the Italian Jews on the brink of World War II has become a classic of modern Italian literature.

Made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1970, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is a richly evocative and nostalgic depiction of prewar Italy. The narrator, a young middle-clas
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published July 19th 2005 by Everyman's Library (first published 1962)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Divine Comedy by Dante AlighieriThe Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di LampedusaIf on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoThe Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
Notable Novels by Italian Authors
21st out of 210 books — 141 voters
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31st out of 529 books — 212 voters

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Community Reviews

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An Elegy encapsulated in a garden.

Recalled through the torn veils of memory, this semiautobiographical interlude evokes the life of the Finzi-Contini, a Jewish and wealthy Ferrarese family, during the ominous late 1930s.

Those lives are revived during a visit to an Etruscan cemetery twenty years later. Another kind of garden.

The novel opens for us a garden of lost youth, where illusions grew in a fertile ground and where the possibilities seemed endless. Echoes of the primeval garden, of an over
You really can't read about a garden in a book from the Western tradition without thinking of that very first one: the Garden of Eden. Not when that garden is so much front and centre of a novel that it's in the title. And especially not when that garden is a walled-off sanctuary from the oppression of Facist Italy. There's even an alluring Eve.

Any evocation of the Garden of Eden is, however, also an evocation of its consequence: the Fall and the loss of innocence. The Garden of the Finzi-Conti
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
There is no such thing as a happy place. All places bring sadness. Think even of places with the loudest laughter, like a carnival. Late in the night, when all the visitors had left, you'll see the ferris wheel and the other rides unmoving. This one gay place suddenly desolate, eery. In China there's an abandoned theme park. It has become, to the local inhabitants nearby, like a ghost town.

In the back cover blurb and in the five-page prologue of this novel you'll learn at once that except for th
Apr 03, 2013 Geoff marked it as to-read
God damn mutherfucking William fucking Weaver is the fucking translator par exce-motherfucking-llence of god damn Italo fucking Calvino and no shit he went and fucking translated this bitch ass fucking book by Giorgio fuckshit Bassani well good god damn I guess I better look into this sonofabitch of a fucking book, eh
A Masterpiece. One of Italy's greatest novels, about Jewish people during the rise of fascism, but also about many other things that are universal: youth, the lure of beauty, unrequited love, untold desires, decadence. It's as elegiac and heartbreaking as a piece of great literature can be. One of those novels that touch the heart and the mind, that illuminates the human spirit, and whose melancholic enchantments remain haunting long after the book is closed.
Quando la mia professoressa mi ha comunicato che per quest'anno avrei dovuto leggere "Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini", non ero poi così entusiasta della cosa, perché mi erano giunti commenti poco positivi su questo libro. Leggendolo, mi sono ricreduta ampiamente.
E' un lungo ricordo, questo libro, un modo come un altro per far rivivere un amore che non c'è più, ucciso dalla follia del nazismo, un amore mai corrisposto, ma pur sempre amore. Questo libro è il tentativo disperato di Giorgio Bassani
Review: italiano / français

Ho prima avuto un pò di male a veramente essere nella storia, ma alla fine della parte seconda, ho riuscito: comincia a piacermi e non ho più fermato la mia lettura. E la storia della famiglia ebrea dei Finzi-Contini avanti la seconda Guerra mondiale. Il narratore s'innamora della figlia di questa famiglia, Micol, ma lei non vuole di lui e è la sola a capire che non sono fatti l'uno per l'altro.
La fine, il lettore la conosce già dall'inizio, nel prologo: la famiglia n
Un romanzo di formazione, una storia di iniziazione all’amore e alle sofferenze della vita adulta, una testimonianza della situazione degli ebrei italiani durante gli anni che precedettero immediatamente la guerra e delle conseguenze delle leggi razziali, tutto questo può dirsi e molto altro ancora di un romanzo che è un capolavoro della letteratura ; tutto questo è stato per me, trascinata nella lettura come dalla piena di un fiume dalla scrittura limpida e perfetta di Giorgio Bassani, ed immer ...more
This novel has been languishing on my bookshelves for years and years. I can't quite say why I never started reading it, but I think I shied away from the subject matter.

I don't know if another translation would have made a difference in my reading experience, but I had a really hard time getting into this book. The descriptive passages were just too dense; the details in the writing overwhelmed me; and, I was waiting for something to happen (other than the inevitable political upheaval).

As I ap
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
The Finzi-Continis were Italians living in Ferrara, Italy in 1938. They were rich, beautiful, unapproachable and Jewish. They lived in a walled dream world until they were forced to open the gates.

It was 1938! World War II was looming in the air! Yet still, what would you do, if you were living then, mingling with the Contini's in their beautiful, luxurious house? Leave alone that, how would you feel in the company of beautiful, gay, young people? As if that is not enough, in the company of a be
Gina Rheault
A classic, rich people playing tennis and philosophizing love story with a backdrop of Italy, 1930's. The story so focuses on lifestyle that it could have been set almost anywhere in the elite Western world, including the inescapable fact of being Jewish. The consequences of being Jewish varied from country to country, and what slips into the love story is the Italian story, there in the north, on the border with Germany, with a Mussolini making friends with a Hitler, with local insults and excl ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Another that was not what I expected. For some reason, I had this marked as being WWII, and I thought it had something to do with hiding Jews. So much for my having an idea of what is on my shelves. It is really pre-WWII, and, while the "racial laws" are starting to be enacted, there is no hiding. The garden is that of the wealthiest Jewish family in town. There is a tennis court so that when the Jews are barred from the town tennis club, many congregate at the home of the Finzi-Continis. Ok, no ...more
Iain McNab
This is a wonderful book, a heavily autobiographical novel published in 1962. In my opinion it brilliantly embeds a personal memory of first love into a specific historical and social context - the condition of Italian Jews in late 1930s Ferrara, as the Fascist Racial Laws are introduced and Italy begins to align itself more closely with Nazi Germany. So much is packed into just 250 pages of resonating prose - and yet the power of the book as a memorial for a doomed family, a vanished way of lif ...more
Δεν παιδεύτηκα πολύ με τούτο εδώ. Πως έχεις αναποδογυρίσει ένα πλάνο, το έχεις γυροφέρει και προβάρει και τελικά το φέρνεις εις πέρας επιτυχώς - κάπως έτσι το διάβασα. Έχοντας φτάσει στα όρια του μύθου της αναγνωστικής μου λίστας, ήξερα τι είναι και πως έφτασε η ώρα να το διαβάσω.

Ξεγελάει το μικρό του μέγεθος. Γιατί, πυκνογραμμένο καθώς είναι, βρίθει ιδεών, παρουσιάζει τόσο ζωντανούς χαρακτήρες, καθένας με τα πάθη του, που θες να επεξεργαστείς το γραπτό και λίγο να αφουγκραστείς τον απόηχο μερικ
Lorenzo Berardi
Ferrara is a magnificent Renaissance town which is really close to Bologna, where I live. It's a shame that for 24 years of my life I've never been there when it takes just 30 minutes by train to reach it.

Then, months ago, I've finally been to Ferrara, but unfortunately in my memory that short trip is still deeply connected with the girl who went there with me. The girl I've loved, the girl I've lost.

The Garden of the Finzi Continis takes place in Ferrara. This novel speaks about love, as well,
I've read some really impressive novels recently, but it is a while since I fell in love with a book as completely as I did with this one, which tells of the rise of Fascism in Itlay through the eyes of a small Jewish community within the Northern city of Ferrara. Or rather it does not tell you a great deal directly about Fascism, but the all-enveloping shadow of a worsening social situation hangs over the actions of the entire cast. A coming-of-age story, a doomed love and a blighted generation ...more
Nov 14, 2008 Ron rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ron by: Portia Prebys
The setting is alternately intricately described and lost in the detail. But so far, the syntax is driving me crazy! Jumbled, jumpy sentences with multiple, many times five or six, dependent clauses and/or phrases which I can't figure out if they're a product of the translation, or Italian syntax, or some combination. It's weird.
But on the other hand, there is a very evocative feeling throughout the book, partially because we know the historical context as being forboding for European Jews gener
Se come si dice "Il buongiorno si vede dal mattino", il mio 2014 è iniziato nel migliore dei modi, dal punto di vista letterario.
Attraverso la voce del narratore - protagonista, impariamo a conoscere la famiglia Finzi - Contini: il padre Ermanno, la madre Olga, e soprattutto i figli Micòl e Alberto. Con loro apprendiamo la vita, il vissuto di quel luogo in cui i sogni, le aspettative e le delusioni si mescolano in un crescendo di emozioni fino all'epilogo finale e alle leggi razziali che lascer
Terry Calafato
Ispirata da una visita a Ferrara, ho ripreso in mano dopo anni questo libro. Il primo tentativo di lettura era stato fallimentare...abbandonato dopo poche pagine. Stavolta invece sono stata coinvolta subito nelle vicende del protagonista, forse complice una certa consapevolezza dei luoghi descritti, e quel giardino che tanto mi ha fatto pensare ad una versione adulta del "Giardino Segreto". Bello, triste, sebbene gli aspetti più drammatici della vicenda (l'Olocausto) aleggino su tutta la storia, ...more
Vasco Simões
Basicamente...o amor não correspondido é tramado. O resto é ténis...
Without really planning it, lately I seem to be reading coming-of-age books or books set in the 1930’s Europe. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis combined the two trends that literary serendipity has sent in my direction in this tale of love and loss. That as readers we know from the first pages that most of the characters will not survive the Holocaust is almost cruel: a constant reminder that youth, goodness, friendship and erudition are not enough shelter from historical and political movements ...more
Alexandra Bradan
Ho potuto, grazie a questo libro, immergermi nella tranquilla ed agiata vita borghese di un 'Italia alle soglie dello scoppio della Prima Guerra Mondiale, soggetta alla dittatura di Mussolini ed alla promulgazione nel 1938 delle leggi razziali contro gli ebrei, che in particolar modo interessano questo romanzo. Ma questa non è la storia della sofferenza che questi provvedimenti hanno portato, quanto sì, il ricordo delle persone care (ed in particolar modo della donna amata, ma ritrosa e non rica ...more
Ecco la mia recensione:

Comincio dicendovi che non l'ho letto di mia spontanea volontà; non era né nella mia wish list né nei miei più profondi pensieri...era solo un compito per scuola.

Non mi è piaciuto eccezionalmente ma pensavo fosse molto più pesante e noioso per il semplice fatto che la maggior parte dei miei compagni, che l'avevano iniziato molto tempo prima essendo delle lumache a leggere, me l'avevano descritto così.
Comunque non è un libro che mi h
I decided to read this book after a lovely stroll in the Roman Ghetto*
(*for those who do not know, ghetto, in Italian, is the term that indicates the part of a town in which the Jewish community lived/lives. The institution of said ghettos is ancient, going back to middleages and Reinassance, and Ghettos are not specifically linked to racial persecutions during WWII.)
It's a place I highly suggest everyone to visit, and I'll surely go back there, if only to see the Temple -which of course was clo
I first read this long ago, around the time I started college. While the specifics of the book didn't stick in my mind over the years, beyond that it was about young Italian Jews in the 1930s, its melancholy sweetness did remain with me, and so I finally reread my nearly pristine copy, whose quite appealing cover isn't even known to this site.

It was a pleasure to reread this novel, and reminded me that in my teens and twenties I feasted upon Europe's and South America's best twentieth-century fi
Bethany Lang
This was completely different from what I expected it to be. It takes some time to get into, but once you do, it will be hard to put down.

What I expected: "another" Holocaust novel, albeit one from a slightly different perspective, in Italy.

What I got: A conversational, engaging novel about the twilight of childhood and unrequited love.

Claudia Sesto
"Nella vita, se uno vuol capire veramente come stanno le cose di questo mondo, deve morire almeno una volta."
In questo dolce libro il protagonista ci racconta dell'amore che prova per la sua Micòl, un amore forte dolce e passionale perchè è il primo amore. Lo scrittore ce lo racconta nel periodo immediatamente precendente lo scoppio della seconda guerra mondiale, in un ambiente della media-alta borghesia ebraica.
Abbiamo il sentore delle leggi razziali, del mondo in subbuglio dove Hitler e Musso
Est-ce que le jardin de la famille juive Finzi-Contini á Ferrara est un euphémisme d’Eden? Sûrement, nous avons tous connu une famille différente que la nôtre qui a fait une différence dans nos vies et les Finzi-Contini joue ce rôle pour le protagoniste qui y passe une partie importante de sa jeunesse.

Bassini décrit les Finzi-Contini comme ils sont : cosmopolites, érudites, enracinées dans la vie politique de Ferrara depuis des siècles, mais aussi touchés par les lois raciales de l’Italie de Mu
Una scrittura troppo calcolata,troppo impostata. Non mi ha dato emozione nè tanto meno coinvolta. E tutto questo non a causa dell'argomento ma proprio dello stile .Peccato,mi aspettavo di più.
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Recollected Jewish-Italian adolescence of infatuation and afternoon tennis parties in the preamble towards war. Ends badly for all involved. Not a patch on Proust.
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  • History
  • The Silent Duchess
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  • The Time of Indifference
  • A Woman
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Bassani was born in Bologna into a prosperous Jewish family of Ferrara, where he spent his childhood with his mother Dora, father Enrico (a doctor), brother Paolo, and sister Jenny. In 1934 he completed his studies at his secondary school, the liceo classico L. Ariosto in Ferrara. Music had been his first great passion and he considered a career as a pianist; however literature soon became the foc ...more
More about Giorgio Bassani...

Other Books in the Series

Il romanzo di Ferrara (6 books)
  • Cinque storie ferraresi
  • Gli occhiali d'oro: Il romanzo di Ferrara
  • Behind the Door
  • The Heron
  • The Smell Of Hay
Gli occhiali d'oro: Il romanzo di Ferrara Cinque storie ferraresi Behind the Door The Heron The Smell Of Hay

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“In life, if one wants seriously to understand how the world works, he must die at least once.” 3 likes
“Even in a city as small as Ferrara, you can manage, if you like, to disappear for years and years, one from another, living side by side like the dead” 1 likes
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