Buzzati, Dino

Tagged: Author

(1906-1972) Italian author and journalist. From his first unsettling children's stories in the 1930s he was noted for the Kafka-like anxiety riddling his apparently simple plots. The best-known of them is probably La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia (1945; trans Frances Lobb as The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily 1947), which leaves the bears' success in cohabiting with humans very much up in the air. Catastrophe: The Strange Stories of Dino Buzzati (original stories 1949-1958; coll trans Judith Landry and Cynthia Jolly 1965) is perhaps the most fully successful volume issued during his life; many of its stories are surrealist fables, always with a parable-like moral edge. Later selections, which intensify a sense of the claustrophobia of worlds about to collapse like eggshells into chaos, are Restless Nights: Selected Stories (coll trans Lawrence Venuti 1983) and The Siren: A Selection (coll trans Lawrence Venuti 1984).

Il deserto dei Tartari (1940; trans Stuart C Hood as The Tartar Steppe 1952) surreally describes the thirty-year tour of duty of its soldier protagonist in a remote outpost overshadowed by the highest of mountains; here he awaits, seemingly for ever, the assault of the Tartar foe; just as the latter do arrive, he dies: and the story is kaput, just short of the World War Two it conspicuously anticipates. Seemingly awkward in its use of traditional material, Buzzati's sf novel, Il Grande Ritratto (1960; trans Henry Reed as Larger than Life 1962), is in fact a complex – and singularly non-Christian – speculative meditation on what makes a human being: the story, complete with Mad Scientist and a sentient Computer which bears/embodies the mind of his dead wife, movingly affirms the ineluctable union of mind and body: there is no soul without world. [JC]

see also: Italy.

Dino Buzzati Traverso

born Belluno, Italy: 16 October 1906

died Milan, Italy: 28 January 1972


collections and stories


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