“Like Fredric March in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Fadigati had two lives. But who doesn’t?”
This is a short novel told by a young Italian Jew in between the wars. In this book, he profiles his friendship with a local doctor, well know in the town for being a caring, compassionate, intellectual, and interesting man. He’s also well-known for being gay. The novel picks up a lot from where the previous Bassani novel leaves off, a wide-spread rendering of the city in the time period from about 1919-1960 as told through the eyes of surviving Jewish townsfolk who had to deal with becoming the pariah of the local Fascistic order, and how a figure like Doctor Fadigati became a kind of martyr.
This is a very sad story because of the sense of betrayal at the heart of it, but also it’s a reminder of the sheer luck and fortune involved in surviving anything so horrible as this. In addition, it’s horrifying because of how cheap peace, order, civility, and citizenship really is.
“Nothing so excited an indiscreet interest among the small circle of respectable society as that rightful impulse to keep the private and the public separate in one’s life. So what on earth did Athos Fadigati get up to after the nurse had shut the glass door behind the last patient? The far from evident or at least hardly normal use that the doctor made of his evenings added to the curiosity that surrounded his person. Oh yes, in Fadigati there was a hint of something hard to fathom. But even this, in him, had an appeal, was an attraction.
Everyone knew how he spent his mornings, so no one had anything to say about them.”