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The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141192151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141192154
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Singular . . . The town of Ferrara and its inhabitants are realized with an extraordinary clarity (Guardian)

Powerful new translations . . . Bassani began as a poet, and McKendrick's redelivery of this taut uncompromising fiction reveals resonance and generosity (Ali Smith)

About the Author

Giorgio Bassani was born in 1916. From 1938 onwards he became involved in various anti-fascist activities for which he was imprisoned in 1943. His works include The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles, The Heron, Behind the Door and Five Stories of Ferrara, which won the Strega Prize. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis was awarded the Viareggio Prize in 1962 and was made into a feature film.

Jamie McKendrick is an award-winning poet and translator. His translation of Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is already available, and he is currently translating the rest of the Ferrara Cycle anew for Penguin Modern Classics.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This perfectly written, luminous novella (brilliantly translated, I'd imagine, though I can't read Italian) is notable for many reasons, not least as a study of two groups of outsiders in Italy during the 1930s: Jews and gay people, the latter represented by a doctor who runs a successful private practice in Ferrara. In a very useful afterword the translator points out that "there are no examples in Italian fiction of a homosexual figure as protagonist" which, if true, is surprising given that the novel was published as late as 1991. The fate of the unfortunate doctor, who practices such discretion at first (or, as we'd say now, kept himself firmly in the closet), and then, ingratiating himself with a group of youths (one of whom is the narrator), falls for a beautiful but corrupt youth who outs him, acts as a kind of living symbol of the fate of Jews in Fascist Italy, both culminating in tragedy. It's told with great delicacy and economy and with a realism that makes it feel like a finely-etched memoir. It packs so much in, without in any way feeling dense, that it feels like a full-length novel. A small but perfect masterpiece.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this new translation by Jamie McKendrick this gem of a novella acquires new life. It is one of Bassani's best, and some would say the best of his prose works. Understated, subtle and haunting and filled with a resonance that goes way beyond the story being told. The translator has understood this and conveyed the nuanced Italian original in the same register in English. A wonderful achievement.
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By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a lovely little book that makes me excited to read more by this writer. It's a simple device to reflect political turmoil in the events of characters lives (in this case the demonisation of Dr Fadigati set against the background of political changes in Italy), but Bassani handles it incredibly well, and the characters are always of primary importance, which is the way I like it. The book is written in quietly glowing language, and, though small, overflows with understated empathy - it's very moving. It's the type of book you wish might have been longer, but for the fact that its brevity is perfect.
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Format: Paperback
Written in the 1950s, this was perhaps the earliest point at which its two subjects (homosexuality on the one hand and the rise of fascism in 1930s Italy, on the other) could be treated openly. Like Camus' 'L'Etranger' it is a story of outsiders: Dr Fadigati, the bachelor doctor, whose homosexuality is tolerated in small-town Ferrara until he falls headlong and humiliatingly for a young student who takes pleasure in crucifying the smitten middle-aged man; and the narrator, a young Jewish man.
Fadigati is overwhelmed by shame whereas the narrator is determined not to follow in the footsteps of his parents as they pretend that fascism is not about to overwhelm their lives.
The story is sparsely written as it deftly, but not unemotionally, dissects Ferrara life and mores and builds a picture of a complacent society about to be shaken to its roots.
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