This historical novel, heavily based on true experience, tells the life of a Jewish man facing extreme prejudice. Giorgio Bassani reveals his take on the world, on life, through the eyes of his twenty-seven year old self in this 1962 novel. Through the calamity of being captured by Germans, thrown into a concentration camp, and losing the ones he loves the most, Bassani crafts a novel with a gripping narrative voice and unique tale. The true story behind the captivating words is largely responsible for the book’s success.
Originally published in Italian, the historical novel was translated into English three years later. The story starts off with the childhood and the experiences of the narrator. It revolves around the social circles of the Jews, and around a particular family - the Finzi-Continis family. The two Finzi-Continis children, Alberto and Micòl, are noticeably schooled and separated from the rest of the Jews. The narrator unintentionally ends up in front of their house and gets to talk with the beautiful Micòl. Deeper into the story, the narrator and his peers, including Alberto and Micòl, grow up and go to college. Drama surfaces as the narrator reveals his love for Micòl, but is met with feelings only of friendship. Towards the end, the story follows the narrator and the trials and tribulations in his life.
Just nine years after its publication, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis was adapted into a film. It was eventually nominated for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Golden Bear at the 21st Berlin International Film Festival. However, the film didn’t receive much support from Giorgio Bassani himself because of the exaggerated relationship between Micòl and another man. That led Bassani to distance himself from the film, not wanting to be associated with it.
Giorgio Bassani has written several other pieces which include The Gold-rimmed Spectacles, The Heron, A Prospect of Ferrara, and numerous others before his death in 2000.