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Il deserto dei tartari by Dino Buzzati

Il deserto dei tartari (original 1940; edition 1988)

by Dino Buzzati

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1,392355,459 (4.01)67
Title:Il deserto dei tartari
Authors:Dino Buzzati
Info:Arnoldo Mondadori Editore (1988), Paperback
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati (1940)

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» See also 67 mentions

English (15)  Italian (6)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (3)  French (3)  Danish (1)  All (1)  All (35)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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 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.
  bluepiano | Dec 30, 2016 |
There are very few book descriptions that strike more fear in my heart than "Kafkaesque." Despite the comparison to one of my most disliked authors, I actually did like Dino Buzzati's "The Tartar Steppe."

The novel is the story of Giovanni Drogo, an Italian soldier who is waiting for his life to start as he becomes a solider, waiting for a great war to start to make a name for himself and later, waiting for his life to end after a humdrum existence at an isolated and mostly useless fort.

This could have been the world's most boring story, but I liked the rhythm of it. Buzzati does a great job keeping the thread of the story going without things getting too dull. I probably wouldn't pick this up to read it again, but I definitely didn't mind reading once. ( )
  amerynth | Aug 16, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (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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(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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