The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles - Giorgio Bassani

A gesture, a grimace was enough. It was enough even to say that Fadigati was ‘like that’, was ‘one of them’.

There two main developments in this 1958 novella by Giorgio Bassani: one is the rise of anti-semitism in Italy in the late 1930s.

The other is the betrayal and ruination of a respected man by a lover.

Both elements of the story are heartbreaking – one because we can see people struggling to believe how society around them is changing to expel them and we know how it will end.

The other, because the story of the individual betrayal plays out as obvious as an impending crash in slow motion.

If I could compare the story to anything, I would compare it to H. Mann’s Professor Unrat (The Blue Angel), but with a main character who is genuinely deserving of sympathy because his motivation is not obsession but the longing for companionship.

What an interesting novella. I will be sure to look out for more by Bassani.

For him, it was true, there was no one in the world he had to look after … provide for; he had no immediate hardships as far as his finances were concerned … but was it possible to keep on living like this, in the most utter solitude, surrounded by general hostility?


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