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The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati

The Tartar Steppe (1940)

by Dino Buzzati

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 76 mentions

English (19)  Italian (7)  Spanish (6)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Sorry, my fault, I couldn't develop any empathy with the main character. ( )
  lucaconti | Jan 24, 2019 |
In an unnamed country, Giovanni Drogo, young lieutenant, makes a 2-day horseback ride to join the forces at Fort Bastiani for a 2-year posting. The fort guards the mountainous frontier, looking over the desert to the north. The fort and its soldiers wait for an attack from an unnamed and not really known enemy to the north. No one there has seen the enemy. Somehow, he stays after his 2 years and makes a career of it.

The fort is a strange place. Old, out of date, and staffed with young soldiers and men who never left. The nearest town is a day's ride away. The fort is very yellow, has strict discipline, and seems to serve no real purpose. Until it does.

Nothing much happens at the fort, and hasn't for decades. The few things that do happen are heartbreaking.

This is an odd book, yet somehow very readable. I found it filled with a sense of foreboding and general creepiness, which made me want to keep reading. ( )
  Dreesie | Nov 28, 2018 |
L'abitudine e l'abituarsi ad essa che uccide i sogni di ogni uomo, l'inganno di pensare di riuscire a continuare a sognare. ( )
  AlessandraEtFabio | Dec 22, 2017 |
This book by Italian author Buzzati, written during the fascist regime, is on the list of 1001 books to be read before you die and has been compared to Kafka. That comparison may have been made because the plot involves some Kafkaesque bureacratic snafus. However, the book is not bleak, despairing or absurdist. I'm not a fan of Kafka, and I enjoyed The Tartar Steppe.

A young soldier is sent to a remote fort overlooking a vast, empty steppe. Life is monotonous; the soldiers, in fact, look forward to, and sometimes imagine, invaders appearing on the horizon. Although the soldier at first intended to seek reassignment to a more central location as soon as possible, years pass, and he finds he lacks the will to leave--his life in town, the people he knew, no longer exist for him.

This is a puzzling book, but by no means boring or dense. I loved the descriptions of the lonely steppe and the quiet and solitude. ( )
1 vote arubabookwoman | Apr 25, 2017 |
As said in other reviews, young Drogo is stationed at a remote post high in the mountains where he seems to be the only soldier not there by choice. Told he may be transferred on medical grounds after a few months, he nonetheless chooses to remain at the Fort. There is after all a chance of invasion, the hope of a battle in which he would attain glory. And, more and more, the punctilious routine the soldiers must follow makes each day like every other day and hence like one long day offering the prospect of an almost infinite future.

On his infrequent leaves Drogo finds that those who had been close to him are preoccupied with church, jobs, families. It's really only at the Fort that he has a place and only there that he has hope. During one trip to the city he makes his only attempt to get a transfer, but as he returns thwarted to his duty the disappointment and bitterness he feels aren't unadulterated; seeing the Fort again, he feels relief. Nor do the disillusioning revelations his mentor offers shortly afterward destroy his hope.

The descriptions of the landscape in this book are outstanding: the Fort, surrounded by mountains and the misty wilderness of stones and scrub across which Tartars are said to have swept, is almost like an unknown Boecklin painting. And Buzzati's treatment of the passage of time--the journey to the shores of the leaden sea--is pitilessly and frighteningly honest.

It's too bad that Canongate didn't commission a new translation; it's a shame that an editor didn't give this translation the treatment it deserves. Buzzati was a reporter and editor and I don't think for a moment that the Italian had the clangers in grammar and diction the English does. This isn't nit-picking; while the book isn't littered with errors, it's scattered with them, and they interrupt a smooth reading. A bit like listening to a beautiful song sporadically interrupted by the singer's hiccups, I suppose. I'm sure I'll read this book several times, but I hope I'll be reading a different edition. Great cover, though.
1 vote bluepiano | Dec 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Buzzati, DinoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arnaud, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
功, 脇翻訳secondary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Nel giugno 1940, mentre Mussolini dichiarava guerra al mondo, usciva un romanzo del giovane giornalista Dino Buzzati in cui la guerra si attendeva, invano, nella speranza che desse un senso al destino degli ufficiali e dei soldati mandati a presidiare una fortezza al confine di uno stato imprecisato. Il deserto dei Tartari, disperata parabola sulla vanità dell'esistenza, rischiò così, per un paradosso della storia, di esser contrabbandato per libro guerrafondaio, tanto più che la prima traduzione europea, in tedesco, apparve nel 1942 nella Vienna nazista.
Ma fortunatamente il messaggio del romanzo era troppo netto per dar luogo a equivoci. La Fortezza Bastiani, affacciata su un deserto che secondo una leggenda era stato un tempo sede delle scorrerie delle orde dei Tartari, accoglie il tenente di prima nomina Giovanni Drogo come un incubo concentrazionario accoglie chi lo sogna: circondata dal nulla, al nulla votata nel susseguirsi immobile di giornate tutte uguali, essa diviene il luogo dell'attesa e dello scacco, segnato da un'aura di sommessa ma inscalfibile delusione che finisce per costituire un bastione contro sconfitte e tragedie ben peggiori.
Nonostante abbia ottenuto un trasferimento, Drogo resterà per tutta la vita nella fortezza, spiando i minimi indizi dell'avvicinarsi di un qualunque nemico (e basta anche il più labile e improbabile per farlo resistere altri anni nell'attesa). E quando finalmente il nemico si paleserà, con un esercito in armi, e cannoni, e tutto il necessario, lui sarà ormai troppo vecchio per combattere: verrà perciò spedito nelle retrovie, dove lo coglierà con dolcezza la morte naturale. Una morte liberatoria e consolante, per una vita che non ha voluto, né saputo, essere vita.
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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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