On the 100th Anniversary of
On the 100th Anniversary of Giorgio Bassani’s birth and on the occasion of the publication of his American lectures by CPL Editions.
Opening remarks by Giorgio Van Straten, director of the ICI, Dalia Sofer (writer), Andrea Malaguti (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and the writer’s daughter, Paola Bassani. Admission is free.
During the 1960s and 1970s Giorgio Bassani spent considerable time in the United States, as president of the ecological association Italia Nostra, overseeing the translation of his works and most notably teaching at American colleges and universities. The lectures and interviews contained in the new volume published by CPL Editions in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute and the support of Fondazione Giorgio Bassani, were originally given at the Italian Cultural Institute on Park Avenue.
In these conversations, for the first time translated into English by Steven Baker, Bassani delves into questions of life, poetry, history, truth and religion. He discusses being Italian, art and his love for Truman Capote. One of the essays “On Nazism and Fascism” is an important document originally written in 1944, which Bassani describes as the ideological background of some of his novels and stories: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis or A Night in ’43 or A Plaque on Via Mazzini or Clelia Trotti.
Giorgio Bassani was a novelist, poet, critic and public intellectual, whose influence continues to grow internationally. In his works, among them the Garden of the Finzi-Continis, he chronicled Italian life under fascism and beyond. His unique literary voice was recognized in the US among others by Harold Bloom, who included his late novel The Heron in his The Western Canon.
Bassani portrayed the city of Ferrara and its inhabitants, with extraordinary insight and clarity. Both place and people are immersed in an abstract dimension relating to the late 20th-century crises of dislocation, solitude and personal anguish.
As an editor for the publishing house Feltrinelli, Bassani was instrumental in recovering the manuscript of one of the greatest Italian novels, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), which had been repeatedly rejected by major publishers in the 1950s.