The Tartar Steppe

Often likened to Kafka’s The Castle, The Tartar Steppe is both a scathing critique of military life and a meditation on the human thirst for glory. It tells of young Giovanni Drogo, who is posted to a distant fort overlooking the vast Tartar steppe. Although not intending to stay, Giovanni suddenly finds that years have passed, as, almost without his noticing, he has come to share the others’ wait for a foreign invasion that never happens. Over time the fort is downgraded and Giovanni’s ambitions fade–until the day the enemy begins massing on the desolate steppe…

A sober and luminous novel about a man who waits his whole life for his life to start. You read it and then you want to run out and act.
-Yann Martel, author of The Life of Pi

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

Dino Buzzati was born at San Pellegrino, Belluno, in his family’s ancestral villa. In 1924, he began a law degree at the University of Milan, but before he could finish it he was hired by the Milanese newspaper Corriere della Sera. He continued to write for the Corriere until his death, while simultaneously publishing prolific amounts of fantastical fiction: novels, plays for theater and radio, short stories, poetry, opera librettos, and children’s books. An accomplished artist, he also produced a comic book version of the myth of Orpheus. Buzzati said of the connection between his journalism and fiction: “It seems to me, fantasy should be as close as possible to journalism. … The effectiveness of a fantastic story will depend on its being told in the most simple and practical terms.”

Stuart Clink Hood was born in Scotland and educated at the University of Edinburgh. His fluency in Italian and German allowed him to work as an intelligence officer for the British Army and to join the Italian resistance movement. After the war, he developed a reputation as a translator from the Italian and from the French. He also worked as the Controller of BBC Television from 1961 to 1963 and as a Professor of Film and Television at the Royal College of Art. In addition to his translations, he published several books about the broadcasting industry.