Authors: Dino Buzzati

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Italian novelist, short-story writer, and playwright

Author Works

Short Fiction:

I sette messaggeri, 1942

Paura alla Scala, 1949

Il crollo della Baliverna, 1954

Esperimento di magia, 1958

Sessanta racconti, 1958

Egregio signore, siamo spiacenti di . . . , 1960

Catastrophe: The Strange Stories of Dino Buzzati, 1966

Il colombre e altri cinquanta racconti, 1966

La boutique del mistero, 1968

Le notti difficili, 1971

180 racconti, 1982

Restless Nights: Selected Stories of Dino Buzzati, 1983

The Siren: A Selection from Dino Buzzati, 1984

Il meglio dei racconti di Dino Buzzati, 1989

Lo Strano Natale di Mr. Scrooge altre storie, 1990

Bestiario, 1991

Long Fiction:

Bàrnabo delle montagne, 1933 (Bàrnabo of the Mountains, 1984)

Il segreto del Bosco Vecchio, 1935

Il deserto dei Tartari, 1940 (The Tartar Steppe, 1952)

Il grande ritratto, 1960 (Larger than Life, 1962)

Un amore, 1963 (A Love Affair, 1964)


Piccola passeggiata, pr., pb. 1942

La rivolta contro i poveri, pr., pb. 1946

Un caso clinico, pr., pb. 1953

Drammatica fine di un noto musicista, pr., pb. 1955

L’orologio, pb. 1959

Procedura penale, pr., pb. 1959 (libretto; music by Luciano Chailly)

Il mantello, pr., pb. 1960 (libretto; music by Chailly)

Un verme al ministero, pr., pb. 1960

Battono alla porta, pr. 1961 (libretto; based on Riccardo Malpiero’s short story)

Era proibito, pr. 1962 (libretto; music by Chailly)

La colonna infame, pr., pb. 1962

L’uomo che andrà in America, pr., pb. 1962

Una ragazza arrivò, pb. 1968

La fine del borghese, pr., pb. 1968

Teatro, pb. 1980


Il capitano Pic ed altre poesie, 1965

Due poemetti, 1967

Poema a fumetti, 1969

Le Poesie, 1982


Cronache terrestri, 1972

Dino Buzzati al Giro d’Italia, 1981

Cronache nere, 1984

Lettere a Brambilla, 1985

Montagne di vetro: Articoli e racconti dal 1932 al 1971, 1989

Il buttafuoco: Cronache di guerra sul mar, 1992

Children’s/Young Adult Literature:

La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia, 1945 (The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, 1947)

I dispiaceri del re, 1980


Il libro delle pipe, 1945 (with Eppe Ramazzotti)

In quel preciso momento, 1950 (includes stories and autobiographical sketches)

I miracoli di Val Morel, 1971 (includes thirty-nine of Buzzati’s paintings with his text)

Romanzi e racconti, 1975

Per grazia ricevuta, 1983 (includes Buzzati’s art)

Il reggimento parte all’ alba, 1985

Opere scelte, 1998


Dino Buzzati (bew-DZAH-tee) was born Dino Buzzati Traverso at San Pellegrino, near Belluno, in the Dolomite Alps, where his family possessed a summerhouse. The mountains, to which he returned every summer, played an important part in his life (he became a passionate Alpine climber and skier) and influenced his narratives. He received all of his schooling, including a law degree, in Milan, where the Buzzati family resided even after the death, in 1920, of his father, Giulio Cesare Buzzati, a professor of international law. As a teenager, together with his friend Arturo Brambilla, Buzzati developed a passion for Egyptology and an intense interest in the designs of illustrator Arthur Rackham.{$I[AN]9810002015}{$I[A]Buzzati, Dino}{$S[A]Traverso, Dino Buzzati;Buzzati, Dino}{$I[geo]ITALY;Buzzati, Dino}{$I[tim]1906;Buzzati, Dino}

In 1928, Buzzati began a journalistic career for Corriere della Sera, the leading Italian newspaper, eventually becoming a chief editor. During World War II, he was a war correspondent with the Italian navy. Although he was only thirty-five years old, he feared that he was losing his youth and his strength, that he would no longer be able to climb his beloved mountains. Indeed, Buzzati would constantly measure his physical strength against the mountain: every year the Dolomites seemed to him to become taller and more difficult to climb, while he worried over the slightest difficulty and, like his characters, expected only catastrophes.

Buzzati was married late in life, at the age of sixty. His wife, Almerina Antoniazzi, became curator of his many papers, including sixty-three volumes of his diary, after he died of cancer in 1972.

Dino Buzzati’s works, often taking a surrealistic and metaphysical turn, can be compared to the fantasies of Franz Kafka; in fact, he has frequently been referred to by literary critics as “the Italian Kafka.” His closest affinity, however, is with the Romantic tradition of E. T. A. Hoffmann and Edgar Allan Poe. Through the themes and style of his short stories and novels–philosophical and symbolic tales of life’s relentless passing, full of metaphysical allegories and strange events–his work can be related to that of other Italian authors such as Tommaso Landolfi and Italo Calvino; the extremism and pessimism of his narratives, however, are uniquely his own. Buzzati’s characters, overwhelmed by cosmic fear, find themselves in a state of isolation and perpetual waiting. Buzzati’s pessimism, however, is somewhat tempered by a vague Christian element, the hope of ultimate redemption from evil through the exercise of free will. Since death is viewed as the only possible conclusion to life, humans’ ability to die with dignity constitutes the greatest heroic deed.

Some critics saw Buzzati’s existentialism as a snobbish and egotistic attitude. Indeed, Buzzati’s works are not easily appreciated by the unprepared reader, who may be puzzled by the strange, often hidden and allegoric meaning of his prose. At the same time, however, the stories are captivating. He manages to maintain a sense of continuous suspense, capturing readers’ attention yet leaving them perplexed.

Translated into several languages, Buzzati’s works became extremely popular in France, where a Buzzati society, Association Internationale des Amis de Dino Buzzati, was established in 1976. His masterpiece The Tartar Steppe influenced Julien Gracq’s novel Le Rivage des Syrtes (1951; the shore of the Syrtes) and resulted in a French-Italian coproduction of a film directed by Valerio Zurlini in 1976. The Tartar Steppe won the Italian Academy Award.

Buzzati received the Gargano Prize in 1951 for In quel preciso momento, the Naples Prize in 1957 for Il crollo della Baliverna, the Strega Prize in 1958 for Sessanta racconti, and the All’Amalia Prize in 1970 for his narrative works in general. He is considered to be one of the most important writers in modern Italy.

BibliographyBiasin, Gian-Paolo. “The Secret Fears of Man: Dino Buzzati.” Italian Quarterly 6, no. 2 (1962): 78-93. Focusing on the magical rather than moral aspect of Buzzati’s allegorical narratives, Biasin’s well-presented article elucidates major elements in Buzzati’s fiction, including tensely brooding atmosphere, crystalline symbolism, journalistic technique or matter, and the themes of human fragility and the fear of death and the unforeseen.Cary, Joseph.“Restless Nights: A Review.” Parabola 8, no. 4 (1983): 120-122. Opening the essay with Buzzati’s definition of fantasy (“Things that do not exist, imagined by man for poetic ends”), Cary succinctly analyzes the talents–such as linguistic perception, economical but concrete expression, and perception of the incidents in an “as if” mode–that make Buzzati’s fiction distinctive.Fornacca, Daisy. “Dino Buzzati.” Books Abroad 25, no. 1 (1951): 19-20. The Kafkian and fantastic elements in Buzzati’s early stories are Fornacca’s main concern in this short survey of Buzzati’s preferred mechanisms of psychological autosuggestion and the ambiguous or precipitous ending. She correctly points out that Buzzati’s intent is to illuminate, not solve or explain, the problems of existence.Hyman, Stanley Edgar. “Fable Italian Style.” The New Yorker, June, 1968. Hyman’s identification of deficiencies in the novel Larger than Life sheds light on certain of Buzzati’s stories as well. For Hyman, stereotypical characters, traditional plotting, and the dressing of ideas in science-fictional garb somewhat diminish Buzzati’s paganlike affirmation of the human spirit.Pacifici, Sergio. “Dino Buzzati: The Gothic Novel.” In The Modern Italian Novel: From Pea to Moravia. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979. The concepts of fear as theme, narrative strategy, and reader response; earthly pilgrimage; and loneliness as humanity’s unalterable fate provide the basis for this essay, which concludes with the judgment that Buzzati’s pervasive sense of religious resignation ultimately mars his work.Rawson, Judy. “Dino Buzzati.” In Writers and Society in Contemporary Italy: A Collection of Essays, edited by Michel Caesar and Peter Hainsworth. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984. A well-balanced, comprehensive chronological survey of Buzzati’s fiction and an excellent introduction for the non-Italian-reading public. Analyzing individual stories, Rawson perceptively unites aspects of Buzzati’s historical milieu, personal philosophy, and experience as both journalist and artist.Siddell, Felix. Death or Deception: Sense of Place in Buzzati and Morante. Leicester, England: Troubador, 2006. Siddell focuses on the evocation of place in the works of Buzzati and Elsa Morante. While pointing out the differences between the two Italian postwar authors, he describes how they both create a sense of place out of the tension between the reality of “map space” and the powers of fantasy.Spinder, William. “Magic Realism: A Typology.” Forum for Modern Language Studies (January, 1993): 75-85. Places Buzzati in the style of Magical Realism along with other European and South American authors, again concentrating on fiction.Venuti, Lawrence. “Dino Buzzati’s Fantastic Journalism.” Modern Fiction Studies 28 (1982): 79-91. Discusses Buzzati’s work from the point of view of adaption, a narrative technique in which the author attempts to make the reader believe that the most fantastic actions can occur in his or her own world. Argues that Buzzati often exploits journalistic genres to give his fantasy an air of verisimilitude.Venuti, Lawrence. Introduction to Restless Nights: Selected Stories of Dino Buzzati. San Francisco, Calif.: North Point Press, 1983. The collection’s translator provides a brief introduction to Buzzati’s life, work, and the relationship of these to his European context and popularity. He also elucidates the contribution journalistic experience made to Buzzati’s fantastic but convincing–and hauntingly memorable–narratives.Winner, Anthony. “Authenticity, Authority, and Application: Buzzati, Kundera, Gordimer.” Kenyon Review 20, no. 3/4 (Summer/Fall, 1998): 94-120. Discusses concepts of authenticity and authority in the fiction of Buzzati, Milan Kundera, and Nadine Gordimer. Comments on Buzzati’s attempt in one story to undermine a character’s authenticity with the authority of fate.
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