Dino Buzzati

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Dino Buzzati
Buzzati, 1950s
Buzzati, 1950s
Born14 October 1906 (1906-10-14)
San Pellegrino di Belluno, Italy
Died28 January 1972 (1972-01-29) (age 65)
Milan, Italy
OccupationGraphic artist, novelist, short story writer, journalist
GenreNovel, short story
Notable worksThe Tartar Steppe

Dino Buzzati-Traverso (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdiːno butˈtsaːti]; 14 October 1906 – 28 January 1972) was an Italian novelist, short story writer, painter and poet, as well as a journalist for Corriere della Sera. His worldwide fame is mostly due to his novel The Tartar Steppe, although he is also known for his well-received collections of short stories.


Buzzati was born in San Pellegrino, Belluno, in his family's ancestral villa. Buzzati's mother, a veterinarian by profession, was Venetian and his father, a professor of international law, was from an old Bellunese family. Buzzati was the second of his parents' four children. One of his brothers was the well-known Italian geneticist Adriano Buzzati-Traverso. In 1924, he enrolled in the law faculty of the University of Milan, where his father once taught. As he was completing his studies in law, he was hired, at the age of 22, by the Milanese newspaper Corriere della Sera, where he would remain employed until his death. He began in the editorial department. Later he worked as a reporter, special correspondent, essayist, editor, and art critic. It is often said that his journalistic background informs his writing, lending even the most fantastic tales an aura of realism.

Buzzati himself commented on the connection (as cited by Lawrence Venuti):

It seems to me, fantasy should be as close as possible to journalism. The right word is not "banalizing", although in fact a little of this is involved. Rather, I mean that the effectiveness of a fantastic story will depend on its being told in the most simple and practical terms.[1]

During World War II, Buzzati served in Africa as a journalist attached to the Regia Marina. After the end of the war, Il deserto dei Tartari was published nationwide in Italy and quickly brought critical recognition and fame to the author. He married Almerina Antoniazzi in 1966. He published his last novel, Un amore, concerning love, in that year. In 1972, Buzzati died of cancer after a protracted illness.[2]

Works summary[edit]

Buzzati began writing fiction in 1933. His works of fiction include five novels, theatre and radio plays, librettos, numerous books of short stories, and poetry. His libretti include four for operas by Luciano Chailly, as well as one for La giacca dannata by Giulio Viozzi.

He wrote a children's book La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia (translated by Frances Lobb into English as The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily). Lemony Snicket wrote an introduction and reader's companion to a 2005 English edition.

Also an acclaimed artist, Buzzati combined his artistic and writing exploits into making a comic book based on the myth of Orpheus, Poem Strip. As for the graphic element, he once explained that "for me, painting and writing are the same thing."[3]

The Tartar Steppe, his most famous novel, tells the story of a military outpost that awaits a Tartar invasion. In its sentiment and its conclusions, it has been compared to existentialist works, notably Albert Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus.[4]

His writing is sometimes cited as magical realism or social alienation. The fate of the environment and fantasy in the face of unbridled technological progress are recurring themes. He wrote a variety of short stories featuring fantastic animals such as the bogeyman and, his own invention, the colomber (il colombre). His Sessanta racconti collection of sixty stories, which won the Strega Prize in 1958, features elements of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.[5][6]


  • Bàrnabo delle montagne (1933). Barnabo of the Mountains, trans. Lawrence Venuti, included in The Siren (1984)
  • Il segreto del Bosco Vecchio (1935). The Secret of the Old Woods
  • Il deserto dei Tartari (1940). The Tartar Steppe, trans. Stuart C. Hood (Secker & Warburg, 1952); also as The Stronghold, trans. Lawrence Venuti (New York Review Books, 2023)
  • I sette messaggeri (1942, short stories). The Seven Messengers
  • La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia (1945). The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily, trans. Frances Lobb (Pantheon, 1947)[7]
  • In quel preciso momento (1950)
  • Il crollo della Baliverna (1954)
  • Sessanta racconti (1958, short stories). Sixty Stories
  • Il grande ritratto (1960). Larger than Life, trans. Henry Reed (Secker & Warburg, 1962); also as The Singularity, trans. Anne Milano Appel (New York Review Books, 2024)
  • Un amore (1963). A Love Affair, trans. Joseph Green (Farrar Straus, 1964)[8]
  • Il capitano Pic e altre poesie (1965, poetry)
  • Cacciatori di vecchio (1966, novel)
  • Il colombre (1966, short stories)
  • Poema a fumetti (1969, comic book). Poem Strip, trans. Marina Harss (New York Review Books, 2009)
  • Il reggimento parte all'alba (1985, short stories). The Regiment Leaves at Dawn

Compilations in English

  • Catastrophe and Other Stories, trans. Judith Landry and Cynthia Jolly (Calder, 1965)
  • Restless Nights: Selected Stories of Dino Buzzati, trans. Lawrence Venuti (North Point Press, 1983)
  • The Siren: A Selection from Dino Buzzati, trans. Lawrence Venuti (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1984)[9]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1951: Gargano Prize, for In quel preciso momento
  • 1954: Naples Prize, for Il crollo della Baliverna
  • 1958: Strega Prize, for Sessanta racconti
  • 1969: Paese Sera Prize, for Poema a fumetti
  • 1970: All’Amalia Prize
  • 1970: Mario Massai Prize


  1. ^ Restless Nights – Selected Stories of Dino Buzzati (Introduction by L. Venuti) (North Point Press, 1983)
  2. ^ Dino Buzzati d'hier et d'aujourd'hui: à la mémoire de Nella Giannetto. Actes du colloque international, Besançon, Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2008, p. 329.
  3. ^ Emanuele Occhipinti, Novecento and the Contemporary Period (Narrative and Theatre). The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies, Vol. 78 (2018), pp. 314-323, at 318.
  4. ^ Sem' Gontsov (Introduction by E. Ambartsumov) (Izvestiya Press, 1985)
  5. ^ "Sessanta racconti". premiostrega.it (in Italian). Strega Prize. Archived from the original on 2014-06-21. Retrieved 2015-07-13.
  6. ^ "Buzzati Dino". www.fantascienza.com.
  7. ^ Buzzati, Dino (2016). The bears' famous invasion of Sicily. Internet Archive. Richmond : Alma Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84749-572-3.
  8. ^ Buzzati, Dino (1964). A love affair. Internet Archive. New York, Farrar, Straus.
  9. ^ Buzzati, Dino (1984). The siren : a selection from Dino Buzzati. Internet Archive. San Francisco : North Point Press. ISBN 978-0-86547-159-7.
  • Giuseppe Leone, "Dino Buzzati e le grandi 'costruzioni' letterarie – La fortezza di Bastiani non è Il castello di Kafka", Il Punto Stampa, Lecco, Italy, April 1997.
  • Luis Montiel (2010), “Una meditatio mortis contemporánea. La reflexión de Dino Buzzati sobre la caducidad de la vida humana”. Medicina e historia, 2/2010, 1–15.

In Modern Culture[edit]

In 2019, Australian singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Last Dinosaurs Lachlan Caskey, known as Notes From Under Ground, honoured Dino Buzzati on his solo album called Partner by making his name one of his song titles.

External links[edit]