Monday, 4 August 2008

Light and Dark


The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani

This is the book that lingers from my holiday reading. It tells the story of a relationship that is and isn’t – or that perhaps only might have been. The world that it evokes has echoes of Le Grand Meaulnes but the dream-like quality of this sunlit garden in Ferrara is shadowed by our knowledge of the approaching nightmare of Fascism and the Holocaust. Micol, with her shining white hair, seems at once predatory in her pursuit of the anonymous narrator and then compassionate in her release of him. As he tells us at the very start of the novel – only he survives to bear witness to the complex world of his childhood and the extraordinary intensity of that first love.

Shortly after I finished the book we visited the Synagogue in Carpentras. Behind an anonymous facade in a small town is the oldest synagogue in France. The prayer room is extremely beautiful and the light was cascading in from every window. It is not a museum - 90 Jewish families worship there now - but as I stood there the Shoah was all around me and I felt overwhelmed.

7 comments:

bluemountainsmary said...

That would have moved me beyond belief too.

kristina said...

How beautiful. I've never seen a synagogue like this before. K x

Sarah S. said...

Very beautiful. It is just so unreal to me these beautiful places. I think I need to start traveling more :)

Tutta la Storia said...

Stunning and peaceful. Thanks for sharing.

carrie said...

Oh, I would have been breathless.

monica said...

oh wow, that book. I must re'read that book.

I think every Italian girl has read it at some point or another.

sweetsalty kate said...

Amazing. What a beautiful shot.