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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Tartar Steppe (1940) by Dino Buzzati

Book Review
The Tartar Steppe (1940)
by Dino Buzzati

 Surprisingly, the Wikipedia entry for this book and the movie of the same name cite this novel as being influential in developing the "magic realism" genre. (Wikipedia)  This is disclosed in a Wikipedia entry that is called a "stub" where the level of detail is so minimal that the entry is considered a mere placeholder.  Yet I was struck by the reference to the influence of this book on Magic Realism, since that is not something that the introduction to the book mentions.  The Amazon product page for this particular translation, by Stuart C. Hood for Verba Mundi, references The Castle by Franz Kafka.  

  The Tartar Steppe also fits within the broad parameters of the early existentialist literature.  Wherever an individual reader locates The Tartar Steppe would likely depend on their point of entry, but generally speaking you can see The Tartar Steppe as a kind of substitute for a high school student having to read The Castle or The Trial: Still European, around the same time, same set of concerns.  The Tartar Steppe is also an easier read than Kafka, and combination of early twentieth century modernism and techniques that would later be associated with Magical Realism.  Most notably, the elastic, fairy-tale like compression of decades of time into a couple hundred laconic pages.

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