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December 17 , 2007

The Drama of the Assimilated Jew

Giorgio Bassani's Romanzo di Ferrara


Giorgio Bassani (1916–2000) was a Jewish Italian novelist, poet, essayist, editor, and intellectual. A cosmopolitan writer concerned with the problems of Jewish identity and history, Bassani was deeply affected by the persecution and deportation of Italian Jews under Mussolini. His personal experience of this period and its aftermath was fundamental to the creation of his masterwork, the Romanzo di Ferrara (Romance of Ferrara).

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This is a book about a young man called Robert Ishmael Sibanda. At a young age, he was displaced from his land of birth, Zimbabwe, which he leaves for Egoli to seek fortune and peace. Here his life changes forever.

In The Drama of the Assimilated Jew, Lucienne Kroha makes Bassani’s personal and literary journey accessible to English-language readers. Kroha’s close, intertextual reading of Bassani’s novels and short stories reveals Bassani’s focus on the issue of Jewish masculinity and his profound engagement with the work of Freud, Nietzsche, and Thomas Mann, whose ideas he appropriated and re-cast to construct the fictional story of his own personal struggle.

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