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The Tartar Steppe [Paperback]

Dino Buzzati , Tim Parks
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

5 April 2007
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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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: 13.1 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'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 £7.99 ISBN 978 1 84195

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the Tatars 20 Aug 2008
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and Hopeless 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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyone is in the Tartar steppe 12 Nov 2003
By A Customer
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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very original and thought provoking book 26 Jun 2001
Sometimes described as an indictment of military life and thought, this book touches on far more. It somehow reaches into ones innermost mind, to put a precise finger on the futility of ones existence, yet also on the inevitibality of our destiny. I have read thousands of books in my time, but never one that made me so sad for my own life. The setting for this powerful book - the lonely Fort Bastiani, in some unknown place and time - is superbly painted, and its characters in perfect keeping with it. A book that deserves to be more well known, it would stand very favourable comparison with many contemporary novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting 23 April 2011
By Leopard
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Will Linger in your mind for quite a while 19 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A soldier waiting in a fort for his moment of glory in anticipation of meeting his enemy in the battlefield.
Waiting, waiting and waiting....... till you are almost about to give up the book out of sheer boredom, but you still read on hoping for something substantial to happen, but finally end it feeling totally dispirited. And then the book haunts you for a long time .... and that is where I feel the marvel of this book is.

In a world full of books that make you feel good by talking about achievement, success, greatness, and glory here is one book that quite beautifully takes you into a completely different direction and its also not really about a grief stricken tragedy or dramatic anticlimax. This book is really about Vanity. The book really leaves you with a deep haunting feeling about life's futility.

A friend recommended this book and my first feeling was... what crap !! But this is a real masterpiece and I really would recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great as a Gift!
This book lived up to the recommendation of the person who suggested I give it. Thank you for handling my purchase.
Published 2 months ago by S. Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Self-analysis
Bizzare and gloomy. I kept looking for the 'punch line'. Maybe that's what life is - a story with no punch-line. Not my Glass of Tea.
Published 7 months ago by Brian P Woods
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM A BOOK?
I bought this book because I read in the paper that Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, loved it. I had never heard of Dino Buzzatti. Read more
Published 11 months ago by paul caven
5.0 out of 5 stars unique
Intensely moving- closest L can think of is Bunyan.For anyone who has ever been trampled upon, this book will be a true companion in pain.
Published 14 months ago by R. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read in the last 12 months
This is one of the best books I've read in the last 12 months. Others here have told the story, but it gives no idea of the strangeness of the novel, which grabbed me and kept me... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Ransen Owen
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak book that drags and then whimpers out
I bought this excited to read something that sounded so full of ennui and existential forlorness. But the book ended up just being boring, dragging on without apparent reason and... Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2012 by J. Franklin
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tartar Steppe: Dino Buzzati
The Tartar Steppe is a curious novel. If you examine the basic premise of the storyline it would appear that not a lot happens. Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2012 by N. A. Spencer
5.0 out of 5 stars A multifaceted gem
This novel tells a relatively simple story: Giovanni Drogo wastes his life in an isolated frontier fort, waiting for a chance to fight off an enemy attack. Read more
Published on 16 July 2011 by Cat
4.0 out of 5 stars Frightening
Cold, beautiful and cruel. The drama is set at a military fortress on the edge of the Tartar steppe from whence the enemy is expected to attack even though no action had been... Read more
Published on 18 Dec 2010 by demola
4.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten classic
The story is very simple and is easily summarised in the blurb. However, the real charm of this book is in the telling of the story. Read more
Published on 13 Oct 2010 by studio425
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