The Beautiful Micòl

Dan Jacobson

As a novelist Giorgio Bassani is both allusive and elusive. Allusive, because he makes a habit of writing as if all the objects of his attention, from the topography of Ferrara, his hometown in northern Italy, to the names of minor characters in his tales, are bound to be as resonant to his readers as they are to himself. Elusive, because the sober, distancing tone of his prose seems to be at pains to avoid intimacy both with his readers and the characters whose lives he is recording. His instinct seems to be to remain at a distance from the latter especially, as if to shield himself and his people from the sufferings he knows they will have to go through. Yet he cannot let them go: the power of memory and unassuaged sorrow drives him on.

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