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Thread: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

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    Italy Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    Lieutenant Giovanni Drogo receives an assignment to the old Bastiani Fortress, on the frontier, where the desert starts and goes on for miles until disappearing inside a thick mist. Young Drogo is disheartened because he yearns for military glory, for the romantic death on the battlefield, and nothing has ever happened in Bastiani, and it?s unlikely any enemy should attack from the desert. The old officers try to cheer him up: many years ago in that desert there used to be Tartars, and some think they?re still there, preparing for a war; so the best thing is to wait, wait, wait. But maybe the Tartars are just a legend, made up by officers and soldiers who needed something to believe in while the years passed, and nothing will ever happen in Bastiani at all.

    I won?t ruin anyone?s enjoyment of this brilliant novel by saying that this is practically the plot of the novel. Not much seems to happen in the novel, decades go by, and all's the same. Dino Buzzati, using the military life, has crafted a parable about the mistake of wasting one?s life waiting for something to happen instead of enjoying it fully, about all the squandered opportunities at happiness, and about the irreversible course of time. What the novel misses in action it gains in character moments, in reflections about life, which will seem familiar to anyone who has stopped to consider whether they're making the fullest use of the time they have on Earth.

    The Tartar Steppe is almost Kafkaesque in that a man is placed in an oppressive situation from which he can?t escape either because of bureaucracy or because of a flaw in himself. But whereas Kafka writes like an intricate nightmare, Buzzati writes like an elegy, full of compassion for the protagonist.

    Drogo is a fascinating character: he doesn?t want to serve in Bastiani, he wants the luxurious life young officers have in the city; some of the old officers even warn him to leave as soon as possible, or he?ll never leave: sooner or later the desert will exert a mysterious influence over him like it does over everyone. Drogo doesn?t believe that will happen, and the years ago on, until he no longer cares. Like K., he's just beaten into indifference.

    The ending is heartbreaking: Drogo does leave Bastiani and the reader is ready to cheer for him, but Buzzati turns everything upside-down in an unexpected way that makes The Tartar Steppe one of the most beautiful novels I?ve ever read.

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    The last time i read The tartar steppe, i must have been the age of Drogo when he first reach the fort, my final year in college. And like Drogo life was a vaste open steppe before me and time limitless.
    Buzzati has a way to make the emptiness of the landscape, the silence of the fort appealing, you can understand what hypnotise Drogo, the spell that blind him to the passage of time. The contrat betwin the noisy shallowness of the city compare to realilty of the this desolate place.
    Each time i went to a small village in the mountain after Paris, i felt the same anguish the first day, the difficulty to reajust ones life rythm. But once it's done, i could live weeks and monthes doing very little very slowly.
    Buzzati from some photos i found of him must have spend time in the Apls, i could feel this perfect knowledge of the isolation and at the same time a sense of belonging.
    I can specialy relate to the description of there obsevation of the valley, seing things coming slowly. When i'm in the chalet, i can watch for ages cars moving way down, wandering who is it, what they do.

    I was wandering what i thought of Drogo, there is a double edge to the personnage, he is clever, ambicious and a dreamer but he is also very weak, he never face conflict or involve himself fully.
    Be it with the girl he loves, his superior or his friends. He is a spectator of his own life.
    And if it appears that he past his life by or failled because of the isolation, i think he would have failed the same, even with a life in the city and a more successfull carrier.
    Some find this a difficult read, or at least a bit depressing but i found it easy and quite untertainig.

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    Quote Originally Posted by saliotthomas View Post
    Be it with the girl he loves, his superior or his friends. He is a spectator of his own life.
    .
    Love these lines. You were really inspired ahh Thomas? It is true what you say, he is always watching his inner self as if he'd be someone else and barely does something to change a thing.

    Besides some short stories (some of them amazing as The Seven Messengers, Fear in la Scala and Colombre) I haven't ready another novel from Buzzati.
    Barnabo of the Mountains, The Secret of the Old Forest and the Bear's Famous Invasion of Sicily are novels I've always wanted to read.

    Have any of you read other of his novels?

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    Thanks for the praises Daniel, i always knew i was exceptionaly gifted but my modesty forces me to write like a pig most of the time.

    Same as you, i read some short stories call , Italian Mysteries (not sure it exist in English), true stories with a nice one about Fellini.

    I need to read the K though.

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    Firstly I read Buzzati's short stories which made a great impression on me. So short, but full of philisophy... That's great. Mostly I liked "The Train" (I hope, the mane is correct). The main idea of this story is close to that of "The Tartar Steppe".

    When I managed to read this novel I was impressed greatly. Such a serene and "calm" plot should bore people, but it doesn't. The reader can feel everything Grogo feels. That's fascinating. But, you know, the book makes feel sorry... and it scares at the same time: we may be Grogos too... And the most expressive phrase of Buzzati was that we should afraid of our wishes, cuz they can come true too late.

    Barnabo of the Mountains, The Secret of the Old Forest and the Bear's Famous Invasion of Sicily are novels I've always wanted to read.
    That's strange... I've read Buzzati in Russian, but there are no translations in our language of these books... In any case, I've heard nothing about it. Is it possible somehow to get them in English, or to find texts in the Internet? I would be happy to read them...
    He who knows others is wise;he who know himself is enlightened. He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. He who acts firmly has will. He who has died but is not forgotten is immortal

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    Quote Originally Posted by Miriam View Post
    That's strange... I've read Buzzati in Russian, but there are no translations in our language of these books... In any case, I've heard nothing about it. Is it possible somehow to get them in English, or to find texts in the Internet? I would be happy to read them...
    I made a search through Amazon and all that seems available in English in The Tartar Steppe. Of all the titles I mentioned I'm sure they were translated, but maybe they're old editions no longer available.
    However all these titles are available in Spanish, in beautiful but expensive hardcover editions.

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    Recently I've had the pleasure of watching Valerio Zurlini's film adaption. It's a magnificent movie, full of great actors in great performances. It's one of the best adaptations I've ever seen, as faithful to the novel's themes and atmosphere as possible. And it has one of the most beautiful musical scores Ennio Morricone has ever composed.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    I made a search through Amazon and all that seems available in English in The Tartar Steppe. Of all the titles I mentioned I'm sure they were translated, but maybe they're old editions no longer available.
    Actually, there are several titles still available in English:

    BookFinder.com: Search Results (Matching Titles)

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    You can find in print in English the following Dino Buzzati works: The Tartar Steppe, Poem Strip (comic book), The Bear's Famous Invasion of Sicily (one of the best children's book I've ever read).

    Everything else is out of print and only available in used conditions and at incredible prices.

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    I made a search through Amazon and all that seems available in English in The Tartar Steppe. Of all the titles I mentioned I'm sure they were translated, but maybe they're old editions no longer available.
    I wish I could speak Spanish

    Recently I've had the pleasure of watching Valerio Zurlini's film adaption. It's a magnificent movie, full of great actors in great performances. It's one of the best adaptations I've ever seen, as faithful to the novel's themes and atmosphere as possible. And it has one of the most beautiful musical scores Ennio Morricone has ever composed.
    Was this a creen version of The Tatar Steppe? I watched one, but I don't know who shooted it. I disliked the picture... mostly because it didn't gave a good portayal of charachters... It could be diferent screen version, not the one you've seen...

    You can find in print in English the following Dino Buzzati works: The Tartar Steppe, Poem Strip (comic book), The Bear's Famous Invasion of Sicily (one of the best children's book I've ever read).

    Everything else is out of print and only available in used conditions and at incredible prices.
    Thanks a lot!
    He who knows others is wise;he who know himself is enlightened. He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. He who acts firmly has will. He who has died but is not forgotten is immortal

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    Default Re: Dino Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe

    Fast forward eight years. I am now reading and enjoying The Tartar Steppe. But I am also pleased to announce that I just checked and, in addition to The Bear's Famous Invasion of Sicily and Poem Strip, three collections are also available: two older ones are available used (Restless Nights: Selected Stories of DB and The Siren) and one will be available new come May 2018 (Catastrophe and other stories).

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