the garden of the finzi continis


3 Maggio pomeriggio a Ninfa

Ninfa il giardino più bello del mondo!!!!! Ė stato definito così, naturalmente giardino stile inglese ( tra l'altro il mio stile preferito). L'ho già visitato 3 volte, da quando abito qui vicino a Roma e nel tempo non mi stanco mai di visitarlo.
In questo incantevole scenario hanno girato dei film famosi:
tra cui “Il giardino dei Finzi Contini”. È un paesaggio romantico decadente per eccellenza, potendo sostare e sedere nei suoi spazi verdi, si potrebbe sognare e poetare!

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

This book was recommended to me by a friend’s boyfriend’s brother - who I had never met before. We had a hour long conversation about books and politics (the latter of which was pretty one sided) and he ended up giving me a few suggestions. Giorgio Bassani’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis was a particular favourite of his, and he said that by the next time we met, I was to have located a copy and read it. It’s been almost 6 months since then, and I’ve only just finished the book and have no plans to see him again - but that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for his recommendation, as I have chosen it to be the first book I review. Or try to. 

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is set in Italy, from the 1920s up until the end of the Second World War. It is the story of an Jewish boy who falls in love with a Jewish girl, who is from a very rich family with a large house and grounds. It follows their relationship over the years, as it twists and turns - a hopelessly romantic tale of unrequited love, social unrest and political scandal. 

There were two aspects of the book which I thought were the most effective and, I believe, had the most powerful impact on the reader. The first was the dialogue, so skilfully written that it’s becomes so easy to get to know the characters; you begin being able to predict their conversations, recognising their dialect and their personalities, typical character flaws and features. The second is the imagery. Set in Ferrera, Bassani uses lavish descriptions to portray the backgrounds and the scenery, with particular scenes sticking in the readers mind. The picture of the narrator cycling in the dark down a moonlit street; the picture of the old, worn carriage sitting in it’s finery in the coach house; the picture of Micol’s room with it’s rich dark wood furnishings and shining white glass models. A lot of the story takes place in the house and the grounds of the Finzi-Contini family, and his description really takes the reader inside and makes it feel familiar. 

Whilst, as the reader, we begin to become closer to the characters as the story progresses, it is also clear that Italy isn’t at peace - Bassani uses subtle hints and underlying passages to tell the reader about how times were changing there, particularly in politics, with introductions of laws against Jews. It is interesting to see how these laws affect the characters, as they are experiencing the changes first hand - as we so often forget about how it must have changed their lives, often in small ways at first, before becoming a bigger impact. 

Despite often being unable to understand many of the political and historical references, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is story which is romantic, relatable and unusual. Creative, different and beautiful - with Bassani involving the reader in the smallest details yet not overloading us, but keeping the images clear and the emotions poignant.