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Buzzati, Dino

Entry updated 24 February 2020. Tagged: Author.

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(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, though he argued futilely against the link. 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; exp vt, some new trans E R Low some anonymous, Catastrophe and Other Stories 1982 and 2018 [for details see Checklist]) 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 and ensorcelled by the highest of mountains; here he awaits, seemingly for ever, in an eerie routine-obsessed Kafkaesque trance, 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

  • Bàrnabo delle montagne ["Barnabos of the Mountains"] (Milan, Italy: Treves-Teccani-Tumminelli, 1933) [story: chap: binding unknown/]
  • I sette messaggeri ["The Seven Messengers"] (Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1942) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Paura all Scala ["Terror on the Staircase"] (Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1949) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • In quel preciso momento ["At That Precise Moment"] (Vicenza, Italy: Neri Pozza, 1950) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Il crollo della Baliverna ["The Collapse of Baliverna"] (Milan, Italy: Mondador, 1957) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Sessanta racconti ["Sixty Stories"] (Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1958) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Catastrophe: The Strange Stories of Dino Buzzati (London: Calder and Boyars Limited, 1965) [coll: trans by Judith Landry and Cynthia Jolly from various sources: hb/John Sewell]
    • Catastrophe and Other Stories (New York: Riverrun, 1982) [coll: vt and possible exp of the above: trans by Judith Landy (credited) and E R Low (uncredited) and others also uncredited from various sources: pb/]
  • Il colombre ["The Colomber"] (Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1966) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Le notti difficili (Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1971) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • The Siren: A Selection from Dino Buzzati (San Francisco, California: North Point Press, 1984) [coll: trans by Lawrence Venuti of various stories including Bàrnabo delle montagne above: pb/Dino Buzzati]


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