The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

by Giorgio Bassani

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis begins by following the vast family history. It began with Moise Finzi-Contini, who built the family fortune, and ends with his great-grandchildren, Micol and Alberto.

The story continues after the implementation of Anti-Semitic laws in Fascist Italy. Micol and Alberto frequent the Eleonora d'Este tennis club, but Jews are banned after a team which includes a Jewish man consistently win championships. Micol and Alberto invite all who have been banned from the tennis club to practice at the court on their family's estate. This includes the story's narrator, who has observed the family at a distance for most of his life.

The group spends several weeks gathering at the estate, and the narrator begins to develop feelings for Micol, though he never acts on them. As winter approaches, the political state of Italy worsens. The narrator's father is kicked out of the Fascist party, and his brother Ernesto is forced to leave the country to attend university. His sister Fanny is also banned from attending Italian public schools, and the narrator is banned from the city library.

The narrator's infatuation with Micol becomes more desperate and hopeless, and she orders him to leave the estate. Then, the federal secretary of the Fascist Party orders the Finzi-Continis to cease their gatherings; if they do not abide, they will be deported.

The family is sent to a concentration camp, but the details of their deaths are unknown.

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