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The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati
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The Tartar Steppe (1940)

by Dino Buzzati

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» See also 52 mentions

English (13)  Italian (6)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (3)  French (3)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Drogo arrives at Fort Bastiani full of hopes and dreams of his future military career. Fort Bastiani has a suspenseful and eerie feel about it, leading one to believe that once you check in you’ll never leave. For various reasons, mostly to do with military bureaucracy and ineptitude, Drogo is not allowed to transfer out. He grows old gracefully without regretting his self-enforced bachelorhood and enjoys in his own way the remote location, his solitude, and brother-in-arms lifestyle. Eventually the Tartars arrive en masse but Drogo has become too sickly to take his place in the ranks, having grown too old for the war he waited all his life for. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Won in Goodreads giveaway!
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
The Tartar Steppe by Buzzati
3.5 stars
The novel tells the story of young military officer, Giovanni Drogo. Drogo is stationed at isolated Bastiani fortress. Upon arriving he requests to be transferred elsewhere but agrees to stay an additional 4 months. Life at the fortress is monotonous and all that sustains the soldiers stationed there is the vague hope in a potential outbreak of war to break the monotony and fulfill their military aspirations.

I wasn’t sure if this book was supposed to be a warning about the dangers of giving up and being stuck in life (e.g. wasting your life passively waiting for something to happen) or whether it was a commentary on the absurdities of military life (or both). It was bleak and kind of sad read (Drogo is an intentionally frustrating character) but I appreciated elements of the book and liked both the military commentary and message about wasting time.
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
One September morning, Giovanni Drogo, being newly commissioned, set out from the city for Fort Bastiani; it was his first posting." Not only is this Drogo's first posting, but his last. The year fly by quickly: "One after the other, the pages turned--the grey pages of the day, the black pages of the night." Drogo is an Everyman figure. The whole novel, through his story and those of the Fort and men, is a meditation on life and death, hope, self-delusion, and glory. I recommend most highly.

With the first sentence quoted above begins The Tartar Steppe, a strange but oddly compelling book. We are never told when or where exactly it takes place. Although soldiers in an outlying fort are eager for battle, they spend their banal days and nights on guard duty or at roll call or inspections. Passwords and even the smallest military regulations assume a greater importance than normal. The Tartars are just a legend, Drogo's superior officer tells him. But...are they fanciful or do they really exist? The steppe in the novel is a rocky desert, not grass as we generally think of a steppe.

I enjoyed the novel no end. I think the Kafka, Franz or Borges, Jorge comparisons can be carried only so far. These two writers have influenced him, but Buzzati speaks in his own distinctive voice. I thought of the Fort as comparable to Shakespeare's Elsinore, a closed, claustrophobic society. The author marvellously expresses Drogo's feelings and aspirations. We feel for him at each step of his military life. He feels out of place during his leave in the city to see mother and girlfriend and is disappointed to be refused a transfer. Are Tartars building a military road towards the fort as he and a soldier-friend suspect? Are they massing for attack? The book was written in a spare, but exquisite style. The last chapter was especially moving. ( )
1 vote janerawoof | Feb 26, 2014 |
Giovanni Drogo graduates from military academy and is assigned duty at Fort Bastiani on the border of the Tartar Steppe in the mountains, on the edge of a desert. It is an obscure posting and one he is not entirely happy with and one that several people try to dissuade him from. Wanting to leave immediately he is convinced to stay for 4 months by the commanding officer. This is Catch 22 as written by Magnus Mills as Drogo suffers the pointlessness of his posting, the solitude of being so far away from home, apathy combined with duty, insensitive rules poorly applied and an institutional lack of decisiveness taken to the heights of absurdity but held up as an ideal to aspire to. Highly recommended.

Overall – sparse yet beautifully told ( )
  psutto | Sep 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Buzzati, Dinoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arnaud, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benítez, EstherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eckstein, PercyÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hood, Stuart C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jokinen, Ulla-KaarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lipsius, WendlaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ouwendijk, D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sala, AlbericoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One September morning, Giovanni Drogo, being newly commissioned, set out from the city for Fort Bastiani; it was his first posting.
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Book description
Young Giovanni Drogo arrives at the bleak border area of the Tartar Steppe where he is to take a short assignment at Fort Bastiani, an encampment manned by veteran soldiers who have grown old without seeing a trace of the enemy. As his length of service stretches from months into years, he continues to wait patiently for the enemy to advance across the desert. Despite, or because of, the fact that they tell him he is perfectly free to leave, he waits for one great and glorious endeavour. Internationally acclaimed since its publication in 1945, The Tartar Steppe is a provocative and frightening tale of hope, longing and the terrible sorcery of the magnificent gesture.
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Young Giovanni Drogo arrives at the bleak border area of the Tartar Steppe where he is to take a short assignment at Fort Bastiani, an encampment manned by veteran soldiers who have grown old without seeing a trace of the enemy. As his length of service stretches from months into years, he continues to wait patiently for the enemy to advance across the desert. Despite, or because of, the fact that they tell him he is perfectly free to leave, he waits for one great and glorious endeavour. Internationally acclaimed since its publication in 1945, The Tartar Steppe is a provocative and frightening tale of hope, longing and the terrible sorcery of the magnificent gesture.… (more)

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