The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

4 April 2015
A discussion on the narrative voice in Giorgio Bassani’s novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis’ (Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini), as well as an analysis of the book and the film by the same name.

This essay explores the narrative techniques used by the Italian Giorgio Bassani in his novel The Garden of the Finzi Continis (Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini), the effects and reasons for the ‘floating’ and diverse way he narrates the novel. It also explores the film of the same name, and sees whether the director has employed the same techniques, why, and how.
Bassani’s Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini is a novel of multiple viewpoints . The central (unnamed) figure acts as the dominant protagonist, yet his narrative voice is partnered by large quantities of text, the function of which is to express directly the dialogue of other characters. Such text brings to life the myriad of opinions held by the novel’s cast by often doing away with the narrative convention of recorded speech.

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It also serves to highlight a certain transparency in the young man at the centre of the novel. Vittorio De Sica, in his transformation of the novel into a filmic text, adopts this floating narrative by taking advantage of the many visual techniques offered by the genre of film. The result is a multi-dimensional narrative, or view point, much like that of its literary companion. The transparency of the protagonist is diminished, however. The range of outlooks act simply to integrate a range of perspectives within the filmic text.

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