The Novel of Ferrara

Giorgio Bassani (Author), Jamie McKendrick (Translator)

With a Foreword by André Aciman


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). Now published in English for the first time as the unified masterwork Bassani intended, The Novel of Ferrara brings together Bassani’s six classics, fully revised by the author at the end of his life: Within the Walls, The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Behind the Door, The Heron, and The Smell of Hay.

Set in the northern Italian town of Ferrara before, during, and after the Second World War, these interlocking stories present a fully rounded world of unforgettable characters: the respected doctor whose homosexuality is tolerated until he is humiliatingly exposed by an exploitative youth; a survivor of the Nazi death camps whose neighbors’ celebration of his return gradually turns to ostracism; a young man discovering the ugly, treacherous price that people will pay for a sense of belonging; the Jewish aristocrat whose social position has been erased; the indomitable schoolteacher, Celia Trotti, whose Communist idealism disturbs and challenges a postwar generation.

The Novel of Ferrara memorializes not only the Ferrarese people, but the city itself, which assumes a character and a voice deeply inflected by the Jewish community to which the narrator belongs. Suffused with new life by acclaimed translator and poet Jamie McKendrick, this seminal work seals Bassani’s reputation as “a quietly insistent chronicler of our age’s various menaces to liberty” (Jonathan Keates).

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • October 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-08015-5
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 800 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Giorgio Bassani’s The Novel of Ferrara, in its complete form, splendidly translated by Jamie McKendrick, is a book of immense pathos, eloquence, elegiac splendor, and a requiem for so much of Italian Jewry.” — Harold Bloom

“Giorgio Bassani is one of the great witnesses of this century, and one of its great artists.” — Guardian

“Powerful new translations…Bassani began as a poet, and McKendrick’s redelivery of this taut uncompromising fiction reveals resonance and generosity.” — Ali Smith

“In a manner reminiscent of Thomas Mann’s early novellas, Bassani uses stylistic detail as a way both to reveal and to conceal character…Jamie McKendrick’s unforced translation accurately captures Bassani’s lucid, luminous style…[It] is perhaps not surprising that a more recent elegist of the Jews, WG Sebald, declared this one of his favorite books.” — Ben Hutchinson

“Bassani is one of the great novelists of the last century…It is time, long overdue, for Bassani’s six-volume masterwork to appear in [English] in the shape and form, and with all the revisions, he chose for its appearance as a complete novel…The city and its people are immortalized in its luminous pages.” — Paul Bailey

“Answers, without having invited, the question: So this is why I read.” — Anjali Joseph

“McKendrick is undoubtedly Bassani’s finest translator yet: he captures Bassani’s elegance and subtle ironies…[The] wait for the completion of this new translation of his Ferrara cycle seems a short wait in comparison to how long his work has been overshadowed by the lesser talents of Calvino and Eco.” — André Naffis-Sahely

“Momentous. . . . Bassani uses his intimate knowledge of Ferrara to build a memorial composed of equal parts grief, affection, frustration, and muted but palpable fury.” — Publishers Weekly

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