The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Giorgio Bassani

Introduced by Simon Mawer
Illustrated by Laura Carlin

A beautiful, elegiac portrait of love and loss amidst the Italian aristocracy on the eve of the Second World War. Using the acclaimed translation by Jamie McKendrick.

Published price: US$ 57.95


The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

The Finzi-Continis, an aristocratic Jewish family in 1930s Ferrara, live a rarefied life. An earlier tragedy has led the family to retreat behind the high walls enclosing their villa, and the tennis court in their garden becomes the heart of a peaceful, private paradise. It is a carefree world away from the growing disquiet outside. As Mussolini’s policies lead to the young Jews of Ferrara being banned from the local tennis club, the family invites them into their private realm, believing that nothing will change; but reality, heartbreak and ultimate tragedy cannot be kept at bay.

Production Details

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis book
  • Translated from the Italian by Jamie McKendrick
  • Bound in paper
  • Set in Fournier with Bodoni display
  • 272 pages
  • Frontispiece and 7 colour illustrations
  • Book size: 9½" x 6¼"

The calm before the storm - a journey into 1930's Italy

‘Papa, why are old tombs less sad than new ones?’ A child’s innocent question and a visit to an Etruscan cemetery north of Rome in 1957 causes the unnamed narrator to recall a summer in his native Ferrara two decades earlier. When the local tennis club shuts its doors to Jewish members, the aristocratic Finzi-Contini family invites fellow outcasts to play on its private court. There the narrator and his friends enjoy one final summer of freedom. But a political storm is brewing, and the Jewish community of Ferrara is as doomed as the narrator’s love for Micòl, the capricious daughter of the Finzi-Continis.

'One of the great witnesses of this century, and one of its great artists'

This haunting, elegaic novel is a gem of 20th-century European literature. Through a haze of painful memories, the narrator looks back upon a summer of enchantment – not just with the unattainable Micòl but also her brother Alberto, and the kind Professor Ermanno and his wife Olga, most of whom will be deported to Germany in 1943, never to return. The 1970 film adaptation won an Academy Award, but only in the book can
we appreciate the story’s nuances, and the way in which the narrator portrays his conceited, insecure younger self from a wiser and sadder perspective. Giorgio Bassani was born and raised in Ferrara. Imprisoned for anti-fascist activities in 1943, he became a major literary figure after the war, winning the Viareggio Prize for this novel. This edition features the 2007 translation by Jamie McKendrick and illustrations by Laura Carlin. The novelist Simon Mawer has written an introduction to this ‘measured, beautiful and intensely sad book’, which is also his ‘novel of a lifetime’.

Giorgio Bassani (1916 - 2000)

Giorgio Bassani was born in Bologna in 1916, and spent his childhood in Ferrara, the town in which The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is set. In the period before the outbreak of World War II he became involved in the anti-fascist movement, for which he was imprisoned in 1943. After the war he settled in Rome, editing several literary journals as well as writing poetry, novels and screenplays. His first commercial success came with his collection of Ferrarese short stories, Cinque storie ferraresi, which won the Strega Prize in 1956. He remains best known for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis: published in 1962 it was awarded the Viareggio Prize and was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1970. Bassani died in 2000, and is buried in the Jewish cemetery at Ferrara.

Inside the book

Click to read an extract from Simon Mawer's introduction

Mawer's introduction sets this fascinating book in the context of Bassani's life as a Jew growing up in fascist Italy.

Click here to read an extract from the book

Discover the Finzi-Continis and the little girl Giannina's words that allow this tender, powerful story to begin. (© 2014 Bassini).


Please sign in to your account to leave a review for The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.

People who viewed this book also viewed:
Contact us
  • +1 866-255-8280
  • Email us
  • Clove Building, 4 Maguire Street, London SE1 2NQ
  • Press releases
Facebook logo Twitter logo Pinterest logo Instagram logo Youtube logo

© The Folio Society 2018