The Tartar SteppePaperback
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- Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
- Format: Paperback | 288 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 18mm | 220g
- Publication date: 5 April 2007
- Publication City/Country: Edinburgh
- ISBN 10: 1841959286
- ISBN 13: 9781841959283
- Edition statement: Main ed
- Sales rank: 42,811
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.
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DINO BUZZATI (1906-1972) was an Italian editor, novelist, poet, playwright, and short story writer. He has been lauded as one of Europe's foremost experimental writers of the twentieth century. Canongate published his seminal work The Tartar Steppe in April 2007.
By Mark Thwaite 10 Dec 2008
Dino Buzzati's The Tartar Steppe is a compelling and ultimately very moving story of a wasted life. Giovanni Drogo is a young army officer who is posted to Fort Bastiani, a remote and almost forgotten outpost that looks out over the desert and mountains of the steppe and onto the barren reaches of the Northern Kingdom. There is a vague possibility that acrimonious relations with the Northern Kingdom could, at any time, descend into war. There is an even vaguer chance that if war were to come it would arrive over the inhospitable steppe.
Whilst younger officers, like Drogo, keep their spirits up with constant chatter about the possibility of such an attack, the older officers know better. They have spent a lifetime waiting, they've succumbed to many a false hope but, in their hearts, they know that no-one will attack, certainly not over the steppe, and that their chance to prove themselves as valiant soldiers has slowly died over the course of many years pointlessly waiting for something to happen.
Drogo is astute enough to see this. As soon as he arrives at the Fort he asks to be posted somewhere else, but is persuaded to stay for a few months. Those months turn into years. The years quickly turn into a lifetime. Haunting and beautiful, The Tartar Steppe, first published in Italy in 1945, is a timeless, forgotten masterpiece.
'A beautiful, masterly novel that shimmers like a mirage, bringing into sharp focus the rise and fall of our ambitions and the pitiless erosion of time. It is the story of one Giovanni Drogo - yet how many of us will be stricken to recognise something of ourselves in him?' Yann Martel