The writings of
The writings of Giorgio Bassani are recognized internationally for their memorably elusive characters, the many ways in which they defy stereotypes, and their uncanny portrayal of the Italian society between the end of Fascism and the post war period.
Lesser known to the public at large are Bassani’s contributions as editor and literary critic. Through the journal Botteghe Oscure, which he edited from 1948 to 1960, Bassani brought to Italy for the first time such writers as T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, René Char, Maurice Blanchot, Georges Bataille, and Truman Capote. Through the same pages he gave voice, both nationally and internationally, to the generation of Italian writers that was to represent Italy after the war: Mario Soldati, Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Bassani’s literary instinct also brought to the press Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, while his ambivalent but passionate relation with the world of film occasioned some of the masterpieces that made 20th century Italian literature known worldwide.
Through the legendary translations of William Weaver and particularly through his anthology Open City, the American public came to appreciate Giorgio Bassani and the writers of Botteghe Oscure, gaining a fuller understanding of the nuances of Italian culture and society.
Nine years after his death on April 13, 2000, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Centro Primo Levi and New York University Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò and the Center for Jewish HIstory will be honoring different aspects of his work and personality with a series of special events.
LECTURES & EXHIBITS
Admission to exhibitions and lectures is free
April 17, 2009 6:00–8:00 pm
The Italian Cultural Institute (686 Park Avenue)
“The Painted Word” exhibit will feature original paintings by Giorgio Morandi, Filippo De Pisis, Mario Cavaglieri, and Francis Bacon, among others artists connected to Bassani and inspired by his legacy. In addition, a selection of original manuscripts and letters will be on display through May 7, 2009.
Special guests: Mr. Bassani’s daughter, Paola Bassani.
April 21,2009 6:00-8:00 pm
Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò (24 West 12th Street)
Opening of the historical-documentary exhibit “Giorgio Bassani: the Garden of Books.” The exhibit will feature photographs, documents and books on and by Bassani.
Exhibit on view through May 7. Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò (24 West 12th Street ) 4:00-5:45 pm
Round table: Giorgio Bassani Today
Italian literary critic Alain Elkann and a panel of scholars will discuss Bassani’s relevance in Italy today. With: Annamaria Andreoli, Paola Bassani, Giorgio Montefoschi
6:00 pm -8:00 pm
Nancy Harrowitz (Boston University), one of the most eloquent American scholars of 20th century Italian literature, who has worked extensively on Bassani and the Italian Jewish milieu, will speak on the topic of memory in Storie Ferraresi.
Sergio Parussa (Wellesley College), author of the recent Writing as Testimony, will tackle the debate on Jewish identity in The Garden of the Finzi Continis, which unveiled Bassani’s famous repudiation of the film in his article The Betrayed Garden. Valerio Cappozzo (Indiana University) will discuss the impact of Bassani’s teaching in the US during the 1970’s.
Sponsored By: Ministero Per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali; IIC-NYC; MIBAC-DGBL, Fondazione Giorgio Bassani; Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo; Centro Primo Levi; Center for Jewish History, Centro Per Il Libro e La Lettura
May 4, 2009 7:30 pm
Gli occhiali d’oro (The Gold Rimmed Glasses), Dir. G. Montaldo (1976)
In the two novels that inspired the films presented for this tribute, Bassani explores different but parallel experiences of isolation and persecution: a distinguished, homosexual physician, Doctor Fadigati, a young Jewish student who feels an affinity with the doctor because of the imposition of the racial laws of 1938, the members of a wealthy Ferrarese Jewish family, and a young Milanese anti-Fascist. Observing the Italian society with great sensitivity to the social and psychological nuances, Bassani portrays the transformation of a country and at the same time demands from the reader a universal and humanistic approach.
May 5, 2009 7:30 pm
Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini, (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis). Dir. V. De Sica (1970)
Rejected by Bassani in his essay “The Betrayed Garden,” De Sica’s masterpiece is loosely based on Bassani’s novel and made it known worldwide. Bassani objected to the film’s didascalic undertones, the aloofness of the characters, and the sentimentalized depiction of the anti-Jewish persecution in Italy. As one of the first film depiction of the Holocaust in Italy, The Garden of the Finzi Continis helped introduce the topic both to the Italian public and internationally.
Films are in Italian w/English subtitles.