The writings of Giorgio Bassani are recognized internationally for their memorably elusive characters and their uncanny portrayal of Italian society during the 1940s and 1950s. Lesser known to the public are Bassanis contributions as editor and literary critic. Through the journal Botteghe Oscure, which he edited from 1948 to 1960, he brought to Italy for the first time the work of T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, René Char, Truman Capote, and many others. Through the same journal pages he introduced the generation of Italian writers who were to represent Italy after the war: Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini. He was also responsible for the publication of Tomasi di Lampedusas The Leopard.
This spring New York Universitys Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò has joined with The Italian Cultural Institute and Centro Primo Levi in paying tribute to Bassani, honoring different aspects of his work and personality.
On Tuesday, April 21, at 6 p.m., the historical-documentary exhibition, Giorgio Bassani: the Garden of Books opens at Casa Italiana, located at 24 W. 12th Street. This exhibition, which will run through May 7, features photographs, documents, and books highlighting Bassanis work and life. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
On Wednesday, April 22, at 4 p.m., at Casa Italiana, the Italian literary critic Alain Eklann will host a panel of scholars in a roundtable discussion, Giorigio Bassani Today. Participants Anna Maria Andreoli, Giorgio Montefoschi, and Paola Bassani, Bassanis daughter, will discuss his relevance in Italy today. This will be followed at 6 p.m. by a roundtable focusing on New Contributions to the Study of Giorgio Bassani. Boston Universitys Nancy Harrowitz, one of Americas leading scholars in 20th century Italian literature, will speak on the topic of memory; Sergio Parussa from Wellesley College will tackle the debate on Jewish identity in The Garden of the Finzi Continis; and Valerio Cappozzo, Indiana University, will talk about the impact of Bassanis teaching in the U.S. during the 1970s.
For more information on the events hosted by Casa Italiana Zerrilli-Marimò, call 212.998.3851.
Other events in the Bassani tribute include an exhibition at The Italian Cultural Institute (686 Park Ave.), The Painted Word, which opens April 17 and runs through May 7. It features paintings by Giorgio Morandi, Francis Bacon, Filippo De Pisis, among others - artists who influenced Bassanis work. Also, Centro Primo Levi (15 W. 16th St.) will host two film screenings on May 4 and 5. Visit http://www.primolevicenter.org/ for further information.