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The Tartar Steppe (1940)

by Dino Buzzati

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,509585,889 (4.08)1 / 102
A glory-starved soldier spends his life awaiting an absent, long-expected enemy in this influential Italian classic of existentialism, now newly translated and with its originally intended title restored. At the start of Dino Buzzati's The Stronghold, newly commissioned officer Giovanni Drogo has just received his first posting: the remote Fortezza Bastiani. North of this stronghold are impassable mountains; to the south, a great desert; and somewhere out there is the enemy, whose attack is imminent. This is the enemy that Lieutenant Drogo has been sent to draw out of his lair, to defeat once and for all, returning home in triumph. And yet time passes, and where is the enemy? As the soldiers in the fortress await the foretold day of reckoning, they succumb to inertia, and though death occurs, it is not from bravery. Decades pass. A lifetime passes. Drogo, however, still has his lonely vigil to keep. Buzzati is one of the great Italian writers of the twentieth century, renowned for his fantastical imagination and for a touch that is as lyrical as it is light. The Stronghold, previously translated as The Tartar Steppe, is his most celebrated work, a book that has been read as a veiled attack on Mussolini's fascist militarism, a prophetic allegory of the Cold War, and an existentialist fable. Lawrence Venuti's new translation reverts to the title that Buzzati originally intended to give his book, and seeks to bring out both the human and the historical dimensions of a story of proven power and poignancy.… (more)
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» See also 102 mentions

English (29)  Italian (12)  Spanish (9)  French (3)  Dutch (3)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Fantastic. ( )
  kvschnitzer | Apr 12, 2024 |
If you get into this book it can be life changing. You realise the stupidity of career structures and how you really have to fool yourself to believing in corporate management.
Not recommended for anyone working for a large company who thinks he has ambition. ( )
  BernsW | Dec 18, 2023 |
O deserto dos tártaros é a obra-prima de Dino Buzzati. Publicado originalmente em 1940, o livro marcou a consagração do autor entre os grandes nomes da literatura italiana e foi eleito pela crítica especializada um dos melhores livros do século XX. A obra narra a história do jovem tenente Giovanni Drogo, que recebe com alegria uma missão no forte Bastiani ― para ele, a primeira etapa de uma carreira gloriosa. Embora não pretendesse ficar por muito tempo, o oficial de repente se dá conta de que os anos se passaram enquanto, quase sem perceber, ele e seus companheiros alimentavam a expectativa de uma invasão estrangeira que nunca acontece. A espera pelo inimigo transforma-se na espera por uma razão de viver, na renúncia da juventude e na mistura de fantasia e realidade.
  Camargos_livros | Aug 28, 2023 |
Dino Buzzati had mixed feelings about being acclaimed as "the Italian Kafka" when this novel was first published in 1940. The novel's setting, a desolate frontier fortress where young officers come and are somehow unable ever to leave, is certainly Kafkaesque. As the story develops, however, the auctorial tone diverges somewhat from Kafka's: the irony is softer and subtler, the details less stylized and more mundane. In the night, sweet dream sequences pass through the main character's sleeping mind, leavening the sense of desperation while leaving the predicament unchanged. The narrative becomes more reminiscent of Hesse than Kafka, the story of a life that has missed its mark (as whose life doesn't, one way or other?). Upon conclusion, the book left a feeling similar to having just savored the final phrases of an inspired and well-executed concert piece. ( )
  Cr00 | Apr 1, 2023 |
Well, I'll say it straight out with no apologies or shame. This book made me cry. It is not a heroic tale in the ordinary sense of the word. It would be more apt to say it is the story of everyman. An ordinary man trying to find meaning in his life. A man of decency and dreams. I know the book hit me hard due to the point I'm at in my life and my quiet struggles. Others might find the story and the man who is the focus of the story boring and irrelevant. I understand that but stand firmly with the man and his ultimate dignity. A story well told, a simple life shared with beauty, and a book I am not likely to forget. ( )
  colligan | Feb 8, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (74 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Buzzati, Dinoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrade, Homero Freitas deTranslatorsecondary authorsome 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
Periquito, MargaridaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sala, AlbericoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Venuti, LawrenceTranslatorsecondary 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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A glory-starved soldier spends his life awaiting an absent, long-expected enemy in this influential Italian classic of existentialism, now newly translated and with its originally intended title restored. At the start of Dino Buzzati's The Stronghold, newly commissioned officer Giovanni Drogo has just received his first posting: the remote Fortezza Bastiani. North of this stronghold are impassable mountains; to the south, a great desert; and somewhere out there is the enemy, whose attack is imminent. This is the enemy that Lieutenant Drogo has been sent to draw out of his lair, to defeat once and for all, returning home in triumph. And yet time passes, and where is the enemy? As the soldiers in the fortress await the foretold day of reckoning, they succumb to inertia, and though death occurs, it is not from bravery. Decades pass. A lifetime passes. Drogo, however, still has his lonely vigil to keep. Buzzati is one of the great Italian writers of the twentieth century, renowned for his fantastical imagination and for a touch that is as lyrical as it is light. The Stronghold, previously translated as The Tartar Steppe, is his most celebrated work, a book that has been read as a veiled attack on Mussolini's fascist militarism, a prophetic allegory of the Cold War, and an existentialist fable. Lawrence Venuti's new translation reverts to the title that Buzzati originally intended to give his book, and seeks to bring out both the human and the historical dimensions of a story of proven power and poignancy.

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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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