Giorgio Bassani

years of life: 1916 2000


Thomas Everett Vanderboomhas quoted10 months ago
It was in 1919, just after the other war. Because of my age, I who write this can only offer a rather vague and confused picture of that period. The town-centre caffès spilt over with officers in uniform; lorries bedecked with flags continually passed by along Corso Giovecca and Corso Roma (today rechristened Martiri della Libertà); on the scaffolding covering the facade of the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, then undergoing reconstruction, in front of the north face of the Castle, a huge, scarlet advertising banner had been unfurled, inviting the friends and enemies of Socialism to come together to drink APERITIF LENIN; scuffles broke out almost every day between farm workers and extremist labourers on the one side and ex-combatants on the other
Thomas Everett Vanderboomhas quoted10 months ago
He’d made it, as they say. No longer young, and with the air, even then, of never having been so, he was glad to have left Venice (he once confessed this himself) not so much to seek his fortune in a city other than his own, as to have escaped the stricken atmosphere of a vast house on the Grand Canal in which he had witnessed within the space of a few years the deaths of both his parents and of a much-loved sister. His courteous, discreet manners were much appreciated, as were his evident disinterestedness and the fair-minded spirit of charity towards his poorer patients. But even more than for these reasons, he was appreciated for what he was: for those gold-rimmed spectacles that gleamed agreeably upon the dark earthen colour of his smooth, hairless cheeks, for the not at all off-putting chubbiness of that corpulent frame which belonged to someone with a congenital heart condition, who had miraculously outlived the crisis of puberty and was always, even in summer, wrapped up in thick English wool. (During the war, owing to his poor health, he had not been able to serve in anything other than the Office of Postal Censorship.) In short there was something in him that immediately attracted and reassured people.
Thomas Everett Vanderboomhas quoted10 months ago
Soon enough, going to Fadigati’s became more than a fashion, became a distinct pleasure. Especially on winter evenings, when the icy wind, whistling, threaded its way from the Piazza Cattedrale down Via Gorgadello, it was with frank satisfaction that the rich bourgeois, wrapped up in his fur coat, using the pretext of the faintest of sore throats to slip inside the half-closed little door, would climb up the two staircases and ring the bell at the glass door. Up there, beyond that magical luminous hatch, at which presided a nurse in a white apron, who was always young and smiling, he would find radiators going at full steam, warmer than at his own house, or even, perhaps, than at the Businessman’s Club or the Union. He would find armchairs and sofas aplenty, occasional tables always furnished with the most up-to-date papers and journals, shutters that diffused a strong, white, generous light. He would find carpets that, when one grew tired of being there, snoozing in the warmth or leafing through the illustrated reviews, beckoned him to pass from one waiting room to the next to look at the multitude of paintings and prints, both ancient and modern, hung on the walls. He would find a good-natured and sociable doctor who while personally ushering him ‘in there’ to examine the sore throat, seemed above all anxious to know, like the truly refined gentleman he was, whether his patient had had the opportunity to hear, some evenings before, at Bologna’s Teatro Communale, Aureliano Pertile in Lohengrin; or else, who knows? – if he had looked closely at the De Chirico or that little Casorati hung on such-and-such a wall in whichever waiting room, and if the De Pisis had appealed to him; and then he would express profound surprise if his patient, in response, confessed to not knowing who Filippo de Pisis was, let alone that he was a young and very promising painter from Ferrara. A comfortable, pleasing and refined setting, and what’s more, it even acted as a mental stimulus. A place where time, accursed time, which is always an insuperable problem for the provinces, passed in a delightful way.
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