Architecture in Contemporary Literature

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Author(s): Hikmet Temel Akarsu * .

Pp: 65-70 (6)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815165166123010009

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


“The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” is a novel by Italian author Giorgio Bassani, published in 1962 and received great acclaim. The work bears autobiographical traces from his life. It can even be said that the author tells his own life story with flashbacks, reminiscences, and reminders from the Jewish community in his own city, Ferrara, since the cursed year 1938. Although the issue in the main “frame” is a touching, sensitive, shy, and sad love story of our young protagonist, who is in love with the frivolous Micol, an upper-class bourgeois girl, the author draws us a very successful, intellectually deep, sensitive and descriptive panorama of the period. Although the story is knitted around this central axis, we also see how the course of social and political events changed in the panorama of that period, how the fascist administration, which blasted in heavy and multiple waves, disrupted people's lives, and what happened to the Jewish community, which had led a calm, quiet, modest and introverted life within the historic city wall of Ferrara. While reading this story, we have an extensively descriptive architectural guide of this upper-class bourgeois family in the context of traditions, customs, lifestyle, and residential spaces. While ‘The Garden of Finzi-Continis’ has prepared its plot in this manner, it tends to reflect the period holistically, with its richness of narration, depth in descriptions, sensitivities regarding the panorama of the period, and sophisticated spiritual analyses, rather than relying on a complex fiction. For this reason, it cannot be regarded solely as a comprehensive historical script of the social and political events of the period, but also it gives the adventure of a historical Italian city with its intellectual details. Frequently, there is also a place for architectural depictions among these details. If we take a moment to look at the geography of Italy, full of architectural wealth, by leaving the novel aside, which looks at the architectural and social panorama of 1930s Italy in depth and detail, we can see that the historical remains of the cities of Ferrara and Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, the frequently mentioned Venice and the Po Plain described in the book, the architectural heritage and the perception of the said society living together with these remains even today, is always interesting, even striking. Moreover, those who visited the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, Bologna, Ferrara, Ravenna, Cesena, and Rimini, directly saw the level of architectural preservation and the magnificence of the architectural heritage in these regions. The novels in the style of Finzi-Continis’ garden, on the other hand, are adorned with precious architectural elements that make a qualitative contribution from the literary field to this conservation culture in the architectural field, despite the deep sadness and sorrow they reflect and the rich elaborated style and sophisticated literary structure they bear. 

Keywords: Architecture in literature, Architectural heritage, Architecture in contemporary literature, Bologna, Contemporary literature, Cesena, Emilia romagna, Ferrara, Giorgio bassani, Italian novel, Italian literature, Il romanzo di ferrera, Lombardy, Milan, Novel, period novel, Po, Rimini, Ravenna, The garden of the finzi-continis.

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