The main theme of Giorgio Bassani's novels and short stories, which have earned him wide acclaim outside Italy, has been the advent of anti-Semitism in the provincial Italian city of Ferrara during World War II. Earlier he had a successful career as an editor with a major publishing house, being credited with helping to bring to public notice The Leopard by Tomasi Lampedusa. Bassani edited a literary magazine and was director of the Italian radio-television network. His first collection of short pieces was A City on the Plain, written under the pseudonym Giacomo Marchi. His volumes of poems were finally collected and published in 1963. The stories and novels that were to make him famous abroad began to appear in the 1950s. They include A Prospect of Ferrara (1960), and The Gold Rimmed Spectacles (1960). A film version of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1962) by Vittorio De Sica has become a public television classic.
William Weaver was born on July 24, 1923. During World War II, he joined the American Field Service and was sent to Africa and then to Italy as an ambulance driver. As a senior at Princeton University, he had a short story published in Harper's Bazaar. After graduation, he taught at the University of Virginia for a year before returning to Italy. He was a translator of modern Italian literature into English. He translated the works of numerous authors including Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Giorgio Bassani and Primo Levi. He also studied opera and wrote several books on the subject including The Golden Century of Italian Opera from Rossini to Puccini. He taught at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York in the 1990s. He died on November 12, 2013 at the age of 90.