Arnon Grunberg



On Bassani - Laura Kolbe in NYRB (in 2019):

'In Bassani’s most perfectly executed fiction, the novella The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles (1958), a closeted gay doctor, well advanced into middle age, develops a self-destructive passion for a cruel undergraduate boy who parades him around the beach town to which all of middle-class Ferrara decamps in high summer. Anyone familiar with Mann or Proust knows about how well this will go. Yet what makes Doctor Fadigati a far more heartbreaking, if less transcendently written, figure than Aschenbach or Charlus is his effortful, backbreaking congeniality. From his very marrow he wants to be appealing, not just as a lover, but as a beloved figure of the conservative middle class. He is not a bit revolutionary; he is nice. And he is predictably destroyed. The story makes plain his metaphorical connection to the assimilated, sometimes Fascist Jews of Ferrara, but it also seems to be an expression of Bassani’s own helpless self-knowledge that he too was a man torn between passion and propriety. His attention—one cannot quite call it love—to Ferrara seems to have both exhausted and finally extinguished his ability to write much else.'

(Read the complete article here.

This is a very apt description of the author, torn beween passion and propriety as most of us are.

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