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The Tartar Steppe Paperback – 5 Apr 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main ed edition (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841959286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841959283
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'With obvious affinities to Kafka's The Castle, The Tartar Steppe is a serener and more immediately rewarding book.' -- The Times

From the Back Cover

"It is not often that a masterpiece falls into one's hands. But The Tartar Steppe is undoubtedly a masterpiece, a sublime book and Buzzati a master of the written word." John Keegan, Sunday Times Written in 1938 as the world waited for war, and internationally acclaimed since its publication, The Tartar Steppe is a provocative and frightening tale of hope, longing and the terrible sorcery of dreams and desires. '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 'The Tartar Steppe is a nightmare, a comedy of errors, a beautiful and anguished fable, a call to resistance against folly, the inspired assurance that one last act may justify our lifelong struggle to remain human.' Alberto Manguel 'There are names that the coming generations will not resign themselves to forget. Surely one of them is that of Dino Buzzati.' Jose Luis Borges Cover design by Tim Byrne Cover image (c) Adam Woolfitt/CORBIS CANON#GATE www.canongate.net £7.99 ISBN 978 1 84195

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andres C. Salama on 20 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
Waiting for Godot in the desert of the Tatars. Officer Giovanni Drogo is assigned to Fort Bastiani, a frontier post in front of the steppe in which the Tatars live (the book is a bit iffy geographically, no doubt deliberately, as it suggests an Italian fort in what seems like Central Asia). He doesn't like the place right from the beginning, and hopes he would be out of it in four months, but he ends up serving (SPOILER AHEAD) thirty years. In which absolutely nothing happens, and in which he sacrifices the possibility of having a family or a meaningful career. And when he is about to retire, the Tatars (or whomever the invaders are) really attack, he is considered too ill and old to fight, so he is shipped immediately from the front. A great book (though perhaps a bit too long) that would be considered existentialist today, even if author Buzzati didn't suscribe to that movement. Note: Buzzati wrote some other great books, including the great fantasy book The Mystery of the Old Forest, which I believe has not been translated into English.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Primrosesmith on 29 May 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't believe no one's reviewed this book yet. I came across it as a result of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, and though I'd never heard of it before, it definitely deserves to be in that list (or even 10 Books To Read Before You Die). It's haunting, sad, melancholic and, if you find yourself stuck in a rut, it might make you rethink your situation. The story is based around a young soldier assigned to a remote fortress whose garrison is perpetually waiting, waiting and hoping for an attack by the enemy, whoever they are, from across the desert they have to watch. If that sounds like a boring idea for a book, it honestly isn't. It's absolutely beautiful. Buy it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
You read it and you will see that "Giovanni Drogo" is you. The story written by Buzzati is terribly true: the life of our main character in the fortress is a metaphora of our life. Drogo is waiting for a climax during his whole life, something that may give a meaning to his life and to his efforts. A life sacrificed to his carreer. People in the fortress are cast away from society waiting for a reward, they are like a community inside a prison where someone wants to escape and someone has given up any hope and feel unfit for the actual world. Nothing is happening, nothing will happen. When something that Drogo was waiting for his whole life is arriving, it' too late and his attention is now focusing on his life that is about to end. This book wakes you up and makes you think that maybe you are in the fortress waiting for something.Maybe you should get out before it is too late. This book will definitively give you a shake.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leopard on 23 April 2011
Format: Paperback
There is a painting - Malevich's Complexe Presentiment. This is the painting of Buzzati's book. This is a book when nothing happens - time stands still, or rather time is simply a single interval between the central character's arrival at the fort and his departure at the end. This interval is filled with the endless repetition of military rituals the only rationale for which is some ill-defined threat from the north, from across the featureless steppe that lies that way .
Nothing happens, every day is groundhog day, the world is bare and featureless, but it is saturated with latent, ill-defined significance; a significance of which we the reader have a presentiment - a complex presentiment.
Initially, our main character and we the readers, find the fort simply cold, uncomfortable and unwelcoming. But the rituals, the endless staring, into nothingness, and the waiting must be for something; something that our endlessly straining senses have only a presentiment but which gives meaning to our existence, or would give meaning if only this something would materialise for us. We produce nothing, our relationships are strictly governed by and frozen within the strict, military protocols of the fort - there is no development, save that of the slow, insidious physical aging and decay of our bodies.
And, eventually, our main character, and some of us, are overwhelmed by this presentiment and it becomes our life's mainspring - something that ritual and organisation gave rise to takes on a life of its own and, for our main character something that he is prepared to die for.

For those interested in seeing Malevich's painting, it is on the cover of the Harvill paperback edition of Platonov's novel - `Soul'. This book is indeed about the steppe; the central asian steppe. But it is very different from Buzzati's book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. A. Spencer on 9 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
The Tartar Steppe is a curious novel. If you examine the basic premise of the storyline it would appear that not a lot happens. The narrative revolves around the life of Giovanni Drogo, who as a newly commissioned officer is posted to the remote camp of Fort Bastiani. The base is manned by veteran soldiers who live a disciplined structured life and have spent their entire careers guarding the border against attack from an unseen enemy, without witnessing any conflict. However, upon arrival it is not long before Drogo realises what a spartan life awaits him at Fort Bastiani but is consoled by the fact that he will soon be able to leave, and return to the revelry of the city, once he has explained to his superior officers the error of his posting. Drogo is persuaded to stay for a couple of months when he will become eligible to leave the Fort due to medical reasons. The novel is not a war story per se and it is from this point, where Drogo wishes to leave, that I feel the narrative takes on a more existential interpretation. Lieutenant Drogo is faced with decisions about his future; does he stay and fulfil his ambitions as a soldier or does he leave and return to the city of his birth. Whichever way he decides there will be repercussions. There is more to the novel than these two questions and I have to admit that whilst reading the book I was starting to think about certain decisions I had made at certain times and why. The whole storyline is very thought provoking, exploring such themes as hope, fulfilment and maybe even futility, it is a very compelling read as the reader accompanies Lieutenant Drogo throughout his career. Finally, The Tartar Steppe was written in 1938 and it is somewhat ironic that the long wait and preparation for conflict described within were met with events that no one could have foretold.
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