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The Tartar Steppe Paperback – November 30, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: David R. Godine (November 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567923046
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567923049
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #550,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Undoubtedly a masterpiece . . . [Buzzati] has brought to life a universal man and cast his being in surrounding which are familiar to us all . . . It is a sublime book and Buzzati a master of the written word. --Sunday Times

"Buzzati's take on military matters is ambiguous. He makes much of the elaborate system of passwords at the fort -- a system that leads to one officer's death -- or the coded music of bugle calls, as well as the way in which time itself is stratified and subdivided. . . But if this is satire, it's a satire on us all, conscripted to the fortress of our expectations, hoping by secret signals and the solace of routine to push time back from the battlements, even as they crumble." --Eric Ormsby, NY Sun

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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In short, I would rank it in the top five books I have ever read.
Mark Clegg
"The Tartar Steppe" is, to my sensibility, a great (little known) masterpiece of the 20th century Italian and European literature.
Uncle Borges
This story makes me smile every time I think about it, and I hope its message will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Meredith Brunel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on February 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
On first thought, this is a overwhelmingly desolate book. It is the life of Giovanni Drogo who, after graduation as military officer, is sent to Fort Bastiani, located on "the Northern frontier", and beyond which the Tartar steppe lies for miles and miles. At Fort Bastiani, nothing ever happens. Holding the absurd hope that some day something will happen that will bring him military glory, Drogo consumes his life amidst the boredom and the rutine of the site. But his hope never dies: as another reviewer correctly noted, it acts like a drug on him. I haven't spoiled anything about the plot: some day, something will happen.
This novel is pure literary magic, and it is a shame and a pity that it is so ignored, especially in English-speaking countries. Note: Enlgish-language literature is certainly one of the best corpus of literature in the world, but their ignorance of many other literatures is in their own detriment, unfortunately.
"The Tartar steppe" is a masterpiece which, with an ironic and subtle sense of humor, talks about the desolation, the apparent uselessness of living, the futility of existence. It talks about it, but in a subtle yet powerful manner contradicts those theses: Drogo will show the reader that, no matter how dull and empty your life is, there is ALWAYS something about life that makes it worth living. Fort Bastiani and the Tartar Steppe are both real and symbolic: they may be an office, a shop, a house or a city.
Read this novel and you will love it forever, not only for its content but for Buzzati's excellent handling of words. He showed he was a great writer. But beyond the style, you'll remember it every other time, when you feel you are Giovanni Drogo, eager for something to happen.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book provides an excellent insight into an essence of human nature, "Hope". The slow yet gripping course of events reminds the reader of the steady and unforgiving passage of time while hoping for something to happen. We all live in fort Bastiani and through Lieutenant Drogo, Buzzati reminds us of how we let ourselves be driven through life passively either by lack of initiative or by fear to confront occurrences which might upset an already monotonous existence. Yet at the end, we all realize that there is always a last battle to be fought and won gloriously.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jimena on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a book about how absurd existence is and how men are deemed to deal with the fissure they find between life and its meaning. The question of whether this meaning must come from within man himself or from an event which is external to him lies beneath the whole novel.

Sharing this sense of absurdity with Kafka and Camus, Buzatti creates an atmosphere within which not only the main character gets trapped, but also the reader. They both expect something that never actually occurs, and the tension this anticipation generates page after page makes the novel a compelling read.
The story of Giovanni Drogo, a simple man who attempts to make of his destiny something grand without really doing anything but live and wait and let go, is one of the most fascinating and moving stories in the 20th century literature.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Guyer on November 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Poor Giovanni Drogo! Spends THIRTY years up at Fort Bastiani. Never has had a wife or girlfriend or children. Never has had a close friend. Never has engaged in combat, despite being a soldier. Never has accomplished anything of noteworthiness. Will the enemy finally arrive? Will all these years of service be vindicated?

What amazes me about this truly existential novel is that it was written by a realtively unknown, mediocre writer more than five years before the "quintessential" existential work, Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT.

I consider Buzzati's novel a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. You suffer with Drogo throughout his years of meaningless service, and the ending brings you to your knees. I literally wept. A truly moving testiment to our insatiable need for struggle of any kind.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on September 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
After reading Dino Buzzati's short story collection The Siren I picked up Tartar Steppe(1945) and took it to the beach with me where I read it all the way through in about four hours. Its a captivating novel which takes place almost entirely in a remote hilltop fort which faces a foreboding desert that has never been crossed. The soldiers stationed at this remote outpost keep watch over the desert in anticipation of a confrontation with an enemy they have never seen. We learn about the history of the fort as well as those who occupy it when Giovanni Drogo, a young soldier, arrives there to begin what he hopes will be an illustrious career. Upon arriving at the fort Giovanni is immediately struck by the desolate atmosphere of the place and want s to leave but is coerced by the forts adjutant to stay for at least four months. Four months becomes four years and then four years becomes...... Giovanni like many young soldiers wants to advance his career and yet year after year he stays on in the fort and his career goes nowhere. As the years pass and Giovanni remains in the fort somehow unable to find the will to ask for a transfer Buzzati weaves in meditations on the passing of time, the fading of youth and youths dreams, as well mans infinitely renewable capacity for self-deception. Buzzati might be compared to Kafka for the parable like quality of his writing but Buzzati has his own style and Tartar Steppe is much more reader friendly than either of Kafkas novels. Jean Paul Sartre characterized Kafkas writing as "the impossiblity of transcendence" and that would fit Buzzati's writing as well. There certainly are similarities between the two authors but with Buzzati you feel much closer to real life than you sometimes do in Kafka (whose favorite author was Swift).Read more ›
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