Reading Groups

What’s Italian?: 

Literature and Sociopolitical Derangement


Led By: Antonio Romani


Time: 6 - 7:30pm


Meets: Mondays, six sessions 


Dates:  1/30, 2/13, 2/27, 3/13, 3/27, 4/3*


Sign up:

Members: $150

Nonmembers: $175



In moments of upheaval, works of the imagination can show us what historical reconstructions cannot: humans going against the grain in unexpected ways, pushed by inner as well as outer forces.


In Giorgio Bassani’s The Gold-rimmed Eyeglasses, a young Jewish student narrates the story of the marginalization of an esteemed doctor whose homosexuality in a provincial town in the 1930s was increasingly less tolerated, and whose Jewishness after the passage of the 1938 Fascist Racial Laws caused his life to end tragically.


Also by Bassani is The Garden of the Finzi Continis, narrated as well by a young Jewish student, who after WWII returns in memory to the idyllic sanctuary that failed to protect his love, Micol, and her family and the entire Jewish community from the brutal world outside the garden walls.


Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Declares celebrates the reluctant awakening and quiet boldness of a lonely journalist as he journeys  from apolitical languor to full consciousness of Fascism hanging over Salazarist Lisbon in the 1930s—and, too, to filial love.


Finally, in The Little Virtues, with a trademark lightness often united with a special sense of the comic, Natalia Ginzburg distills a set of moral principles from her terrible experience before, during, and after World War II.          


About Antonio Romani: His co-translation (with Martha Cooley) of Antonio Tabucchi’s Time Ages in a Hurry appeared in 2015. He has also co-translated the work of the Milanese poet Giampiero NeriHe has published interviews with several contemporary Italian writers. One of his essays, on Elena Ferrante, published in A Public Space, was a Notable in Best American Essays 2016.  Romani taught Italian literature and history at several Italian high schools.


*Please note the original date of the last class was changed so as not to overlap with Passover. Thank you.