’s 101 Weird Writers: #4 – Dino Buzzati

Interpretations of Buzzati and "The Colomber"

This post is part of an ongoing series on 101 weird writers featured in The Weird compendium, the anthology that serves as the inspiration for this site. There is no ranking system; the order is determined by the schedule of posts.

Dino Buzzati (1906 — 1972) was an Italian novelist and short story writer who served as a journalist with the Italian navy during World War II. On his return, Buzzati published his most famous book, The Tartar Steppe. However, the writer is best-known for his short stories, which could be darkly fantastical or whimsical, several of them touched by the weird. He once noted that “the effectiveness of a fantastic story will depend on its being told in the most simple and practical terms.” “The Colomber” (1966), with its haunting sea creature, is quietly horrific and has some of the qualities of a weird fable. Here, the contributor of the translation of that story as featured in The Weird, Gio Clairval, offers an in-depth analysis of both the story itself and Buzzati’s impressive oeuvre.

- Adam Mills, editor of “101 Weird Writers”


Dino Buzzati, Poema a fumetti, (Poem Strip, 1969)

When I die, I want to remember that I used to be Dino Buzzati. Becoming a carefree, happy soul, unaware of my previous life, would be a total swindle. (quoted by Domenico Porzio, Primi Piani, 1973)

Every real pain is written on slabs of a mysterious substance, compared to which granite is butter. And eternity cannot erase it.  Dino Buzzati, “I due autisti” (The Two Drivers, in Il colombre e altri racconti, 1966)

Mental Ants

I discovered Buzzati’s art when I was eighteen years old. On my birthday, a friend gifted me with a strange book comprised mainly of drawings. It was not exactly one of those illustrated volumes with speech bubbles which the critics have baptised graphic novels (because comic books have little artistic pretension in their eyes). I would have called it a picture book for grownups. The cover displayed a gigantic grey werecat poised to devour a woman dressed in harem-fashion flowing attire. The title read I miracoli di Val Morel (The Miracles of Val Morel, 1971), and it was Buzzati’s last, iconic work, published a year before his death.

Unlike most of my books, which lurk, still unpacked, in my basement (my apartment cannot host them all), this book is on a shelf, beside other works penned by Buzzati. Each drawing displays the acronym “PGR” (Per Grazia Ricevuta:  For a Received Grace). The Miracles of Val Morel illustrates the victories of a nun with a halo, Saint Rita da Cascia, who deflects dangers ranging from “foul deeds,” stacked in the overflowing drawer chests of a girls’ boarding school, to “volcanic cats” threatening a village, not to forget “mental ants.” I will get to these curious insects soon.

Back then, on my eighteenth birthday, I clutched the little book, thinking that it was a weird gift indeed. I studied those surreal drawings for hours. I found the naïve style surprising, and the theme unexpected. Why had Buzzati — who was an agnostic — drawn images in the Catholic tradition of the ex voto? But here they were, thirty-nine thanksgiving plaques donated to a church by the imaginary recipients of ad hoc miracles, votive offerings to the regiments of Heaven for personalized services. Because, you see, saints are not supposed to act like demigods. Forgetting that the people of the shining haloes can only intercede with the superior powers on behalf of the faithful, and working miracles is not part of their job description, the popular religion has inspired formulae like “Santa Rita (Sant’Antonio, San Nicolo’…) fammi la grazia” (do me a favor).

Back to the mental ants.

Le formiche mentali (The Mental Ants), I Miracoli di Val Morel (The Miracles of Val Morel, 1971)

It would seem that actually in Longarone and in the Zoldo Valley, in the year 1871, there was a brief invasion of mental ants, apparently from the Balkan region. Tiny, almost imperceptible in their normal state, they grew dramatically once installed within the cerebral convolutions, which the insects reached through the ears. The victims, however, were very few. The infected were gradually transferred to the province’s asylum, and all traces of the patients vanished.

Mental ants, with their mere presence, loosen the ontological solidity of the everyday world, insinuating the doubt about the very existence of the infected person. Dino Buzzati, I Miracoli di Val Morel (The Miracles of Val Morel, 1971)

In the book, Buzzati recounts how he found a chapel in Val Morel during an excursion in the mountains of Belluno, a town located fifty miles to the north of Venice. Several reference articles, both online and in print, cite Val Morel as a real place, but it is not. Not in the Dolomites, at any rate. A “Valmorel” does exist: it is a renowned ski resort on the other end of the Alpine arc, in the French region of Savoy.  In reality, Buzzati took inspiration from the Sanctuary of Madonna di Parè in Limana, Belluno province.

The creation of an imaginary place is important, as it characterizes the story itself as “out of this world” and in this case adds to the ironical, iconoclastic angle. The irony, by the way, eluded young anticlerical-me as I leafed through the pages that very first time. I found the whole endeavor, with a saint super-nun dispensing graces, utterly disturbing — well, although today I love this booklet with no reservations, I still find it disturbing even now.

Once the first shock was overcome, I saw the irony on each page. But then again, why such insistence on temptation and redemption in the mind and heart of an artist who had no religious faith?

I wondered if a man of his time could forget about his Catholic upbringing entirely. The idea of sin is particularly present in Buzzati’s artistic production as a painter, in the form of a tormented dramatization of carnality, the mise en scène of its irresistible attraction, and the subsequent punishment, however ironic. Buzzati believed the only way to overcome one’s inner demons was to rise above one’s instincts. The Miracles of Val Morel (1971) illustrates the monsters’ constant attacks, and a rescue by the better part of the tempted person in the nick of time.

After all, the cathedral builders raised stone spires to escape the netherworld demons’ bites, although the demons reappeared in the gutters, which became gargoyles. The elongated body of the gutters/gargoyles had a purpose: to throw the water as far as possible from the wall. Still, the builders could have made the gutters in the shape of angels, but no. Everything that altered the purity of the elevation had to be monstrous. For what are all these grotesques if not the externalisation of the inner demons?  Half expelled, the dark impulsions are now under control and ready to battle the evil spirits that come from the external, secular world (the “century,” in the Church’s language).

Buzzati was not a religious man, and even on his deathbed he saw no priest (a bishop hovered about, but Buzzati never invited him in). There was a nurse, a discreet nun who, twenty-five years later remembered the writer as a quiet, undemanding patient “who never ringed the bell” to call her.

Maybe the earth is tired, too, and is drooping in God’s lap – Dino Buzzati, Poema a fumetti, (Poem Strip, 1969)

Towards the end, Buzzati told the nun “You’re lucky, because you have your faith,” to which she replied, “You have your quest, and it is a beginning of faith.” The exchange ended there.

The quest haunted his writing.  In a short story published when he was a war correspondent for the Corriere della Sera (one of the foremost Italian newspapers), Buzzati wrote about a prince who leaves his palace and his old life to devote himself to seeking the boundary of his father’s kingdom, a boundary he may never find. On his quest, he is accompanied by seven men whose task it is to go back home, one at a time, to gather news and deliver the information back to him, wherever he is.

The protagonist of the story symbolizes a man who severs all ties with his origins, to do some soul-searching, and becomes separated from what he believed to be his identity. The seven messengers, who in turn face an increasingly long journey to reach the hometown and then to go back to the prince, symbolize the fading memories of a world that used to be the only accepted reality.

After much wandering, it appears that

There is no frontier, I suspect, at least not in the sense we are accustomed to. There are neither valleys nor mountains closing the way. Probably I will cross the threshold unawares, and I will continue to go on, oblivious. “I sette messaggeri” (The Seven Messengers, Mondadori, 1942).

The prince realizes that he will never give up his quest until his dying day. The initial fear of the unknown is transformed into the restless desire to find out what lies ahead, farther and farther away.

Here is a passage from a literary article (an “elzeviro[i]” in the Italian press jargon) written more than twenty years after “The Seven Messengers”:

There is a world, still unexplored, where energy flows, a world of correspondences that escapes our control. One could say that a visible barrier surrounds it, separating it from us. Through this hermetic border echoes and messages reach us nevertheless, with such evidence, even physical, that doubt is no longer possible. There lie secrets that will surely be decrypted in the future, facts of such magnitude to outshine all the great discoveries of this century.  ” Ma la scienza dice di no” (But Science Says No, Corriere della Sera, 9/11/1966).

To live is to wait for something that never comes

Fifteen years after Buzzati’s first novel was published, in 1933, recognition came with a new edition of the widely acclaimed Il deserto dei tartari, (The Tartar Steppe, Milan, 1940), the metaphor of a life spent on the brink of salvation or damnation, courage and cowardice, and, above everything else, a life spent waiting. In an interview for the new edition, which marked the definitive consecration of the book as a best seller, Buzzati told a fellow journalist, Alberico Sala, how he felt when he was writing the novel, every single night after work, for years:

… months passed, years passed, and I wondered if it would always continue this way, if the wishes, the dreams of my youth would atrophy little by little, and fade, if the big opportunity would come or not, and around me I was seeing other men, some of my age, others much older, who let themselves be carried away by the same slow river. (Interview by fellow journalist Alberico Sala, Introduction to the 1966 Oscar Mondadori edition.

This passage epitomizes the fundamental theme in Buzzati’s literary works: life is a series of unmatched expectations, and as you live, you can only wait and then renounce your expectations.  And human beings, despite their common lot, face their fate alone, in eternal solitude.

The man

Dino Buzzati Traverso (1906−1972) was born in San Pellegrino, Belluno (Veneto region), in his family’s ancestral villa at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains. His mother, with whom he lived until she died in 1961, descended from a patrician family that had given seven doxi (supreme magistrates) to the Serenissime Republic of Venice; his father, who belonged to an ancient Bellunese family, was a professor of international law at the prestigious University of Pavia and the recently born Bocconi University of Milan.

The Buzzatis lived in Milan and spent their holidays in their villa near Belluno. All his life, Dino Buzzati loved the Alps, which inspired both his first novel and his very last work. His father died of pancreas cancer when Buzzati was fourteen. Dino was convinced that he would die from the same cause. And he did.

The third of four children, in 1924 he enrolled in the law school of Milan, not for inclination but because his other brothers had chosen different paths, and Dino was expected to take up the paternal torch. Even before graduation (he wrote a thesis on the legal aspects of the Concordat between the Catholic Church and the Italian state), he was hired at the age of twenty-two by the Milanese newspaper Corriere della Sera, where he would remain until his death. He began at the copy-editing department, was promoted to the important job of “titolista,” the person who writes the titles of all the articles, and then became a reporter, a war correspondent, a critic and an essayist.

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 (The Tartar Steppe) brought critical acclaim and fame to the author. He was fifty-four when he married young Almerina Antoniazzi in 1966, three years after the release of his partially autobiographical last novel, Un amore (A Love Affair), which is thought to have been inspired by his relationship with Almerina.

In 1950, following the death of his dog Diabolik, named after a popular comic book hero, he published “In quel preciso momento” (In That Precise Moment), a diary and collection of notes on the apprehension of passing and the mysterious void on the other side.

On December 8, 1971, Buzzati left his home for the hospital, knowing he would not come back. He made the tour of the rooms, and in his study he took a sheet of paper and made a pencil sketch of his armchair. Empty.

Surely we will live for a long time. But what about fifty years, let’s say, a hundred years from now? What will become of us? Who will remember us? In one hundred and fifty years his sublime verses will live on, the words will fall in place, their truly exact place, like crystal blocks, and concentric waves will still expand across the world to crash against the cliffs of darkness.  In quel preciso momento (In That Precise Moment, a collection of notes, 1950).

Works Summary

A journalist, writer, poet, playwright, librettist, stage costume designer, painter, and graphic artist, Dino Buzzati wrote five novels, nine collections of short stories and poetry, and many theatre and radio plays. He wrote four librettos for operas composed by Luciano Chailly and a libretto for Giulio Viozzi’s La giacca stregata (The Cursed Jacket, also a short story).

His paintings and drawings have been shown in many exhibitions. Buzzati used to say that he saw himself as a painter that had a day job as a journalist. His artistic and writerly sensibilities are combined in a comic book, the hallucinatory contemporary version of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice Poema a fumetti (Poem Strip, 1969), and his last work, I miracoli di Val Morel (op. cit.).

Selected Bibliography

  • Bàrnabo delle montagne (Barnabo of the Mountains, a novel, 1933)
  • Il segreto del bosco vecchio (The Secret of the Old Forest, a novel, 1935)
  • Il deserto dei Tartari (The Tartar Steppe, a novel, 1940)
  • I sette messaggeri (The Seven Messengers, collection of short stories, 1942)
  • La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia (The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, children’s book, 1945)
  • Il grande ritratto (The Great Portrait, a novel, 1960)
  • Un amore (A Love Affair, a novel, 1963)
  • Il capitano Pic e altre poesie (Captain Pic and Other Poems, poetry, 1965)
  • Il colombre (The Colomber, collection of short stories, 1966)
  • Poema a fumetti (Poem Strip, graphic novel, 1969)
  • I miracoli di Val Morel (The Miracles of Val Morel, commented drawings, 1971)

His children’s book La famosa invasione degli orsi in Sicilia was translated by Frances Lobb into English as The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily.

The Tartar Steppe, the novel that earned him international fame, was completed in 1939 and first published in 1940. The novel tells the story of a military outpost that awaits a Tartar invasion, a poignant depiction of the passing of life. An American edition (Boston, Davin R. Godine) was published in 2005, in the translation of Stuart C. Hood.

Il deserto dei Tartari was made into a film in 1976, directed by Valerio Zurlini and starring Vittorio Gassman, Philippe Noiret, Max von Sydow, and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

Other works inspired films: Un amore, directed by Gianni Vernuccio (1965); Il fischio al naso, by Ugo Tognazzi (1967); Il segreto del bosco vecchio, by Ermanno Olmi (1993); and Bàrnabo delle montagne, by Mario Brenta (1994).

Buzzati also wrote short stories featuring fantastic animals such as the bogeyman and, his own invention, the Colomber (il colombre). In 1991 Mondadori published Il bestiario (The Bestiary).

He is considered the Italian Kafka by many. His stories, even the most fantastical ones, are grounded in reality, and for this reason a few critics list his work as magic realism. I think Buzzati’s sensibility resonates with the most typical elements of the Weird. The fantastical events may appear to be grounded in reality, yet the way he approached mysterious phenomena conveys anxiety — and attraction — towards the unknown that stirs ominously under the apparent banality of the everyday world.

Commentators have said that Buzzati always used ordinary settings because he was, above everything else, a reporter. It may be so, but, without wanting to compare two forms of art that vibrate on different dimensions, let us look at Buzzati’s graphic works, to get a glimpse of the man’s heart (for did he not say of himself “I am the victim of a cruel misunderstanding: I am a painter who, for a rather long period, has taken up the hobby of writing, and was known as a writer and a journalist as well”?). In his art, we can see the Uncanny punch out of the fragile envelope that keeps everything together, until reality itself is destroyed.

Il Duomo di Milano (The Cathedral of Milan, 1952) in La boutique del mistero (The Mystery Boutique, 1968)

The Colomber, a Tendril-Animal?

The Colomber, I miracoli di Val Morel (The Miracles of Val Morel, 1971)

The image above is a reference to the short story “Il colombre,” which Buzzati had published in the collection Il colombre e altri cinquanta racconti, Mondadori, 1966) — the story I have translated for The Weird.

Stefano Lazzarin , in his essay “Il Vipistrello”[ii]—how shall I translate this appellation? It’s a concertinaed word from the Italian “pipistrello” (bat) and the Latin name of the bat “vespertilium,” of the evening; it could be a Vesperbat — Lazzarin, I was saying, considers Kafka’s Odradek,  Cortázar’s Adbekunkus, and Buzzati’s Colombre “living creatures even more disturbing because they can be captured only through the sound of a literally impossible word.”

Tommaso Landolfi, a twentieth-century master of the Italian Weird, invented the concept of the tendril-word. A tendril-word curls up around itself and comes away completely unmoored from reality:

We all have, either voluntarily or by accident, done the experiment of tossing and turning a word in our heads until all meaning leaks out, living the word empty. At this point the word seems to detach itself, not only from the object to which it is normally tied, but from every possible object or foothold or support. The word starts to curl up, and twine around itself within the mind. At first it resembles the tips of a branch, which the fire in the fireplace twists and shrivels before burning them, and then the emptied word resembles only itself. 

We could call these words that have no conceivable relationship with the world of phenomena tendril-words.”

Now, what are they? 

Are they unrecognizable objects or actual standalone words? And, in the latter case, where are they and what do they symbolize? And we ourselves — what are we supposed to do with them, in which space, in which abyss of the soul should we let them swarm? Once again we cannot but feel overcome by them; nor, dismayed, do we find anything better than to retreat hastily from that world of shadows and threatening words and return the words to their trite, tentative meaning. Tommaso Landolfi, Des mois (A Few Months) 1967, in Id., Opere. II. edited by Idolina Landolfi, Milan. 1960 – 1971 (my translation).

Lazzarin explores the universe of the tendril-animals: The tendril-word is (almost) always a tendril animal, maybe thanks to that phantasmal power Italo Calvino attributes to animals:”

The animal, real or imaginary, has a special place in the dimension of the fantastic: as soon as it is named, it assumes a phantasmal power; becomes allegory, symbol, emblem. Italo Calvino, “Il cielo, l’uomo, l’elefante” (Sky, Man, Elephant, on Pline the Elder), 1982, in Saggi. 1945 – 1985,  quoted by Lazzarin, my translation.

Let us meet the Vipistrello as it enters one of Landolfi’s novels:

A vesperbat, not a bat, but very precisely a big vesperbat, has entered — I can’t see how — and is fluttering about. Am I saying that it entered my cabin, and it’s fluttering around me? No, not at all, I mean it is exactly within the walls of my skull. First it was trapped in the strong cobwebs, and then, after ripping them with its wriggling, it has started banging obstinately against my forehead, like a big fly against the windowpane: he got in, somehow, and it doesn’t know how to get out. Of course, sneezing with all my might, I have popped it out, grabbed it, flattened it with my hands and an iron bar; then I have folded it eight times, I have smoothed it out some more and I have slipped it into the usual tube of carbonic culidrid, where it has joined the others. Tommaso Landolfi, Cancroregina, 1950 (my translation).

There is a fundamental difference, Lazzarin says, between the fantastic animal in the literature of the previous centuries and the weird inventions of the twentieth century: Landolfi’s Vipistrello is an animal that actually exists, at least for the narrator. “We cannot neutralize the Uncanny[iii] by confining it to the repertoire of allegories: that allegory is flesh; it is not just a symbol; that ghost is solid and scary. As another great twentieth-century writer in some ways close to Landolfi, Buzzati, would say, it is not, or not only, a symbol; and from that comes the terror” (Lazzarin, op. cit.).

So – they insist – would it be by any chance an allegory? Would it, so to speak, symbolize death? or some danger? or years that pass? Nothing at all, gentlemen: it is simply a drop of water, only it climbs the stairs. […] No, I tell you, it’s not a joke, there’s no double entendre, alas, it’s just a drop of water, but apparently, at night it goes up the stairs. Tick, tick, mysteriously, step after step. And that’s why we’re scared. Dino Buzzati, “Una goccia” (One Drop of Water, in Terrore alla Scala (Terror at La Scala, 1949.) (my translation).

After Borges, Buzzati is another taxonomist of imaginary animals and a great inventor of names. At first glance, this big shark of ill repute looks like an ordinary monster; one would think that it is little more than a rewrite of Melville’s white whale: a huge mythological beast, but not a tendril-animal. Buzzati, in his conversations with Panafieu[iv]  confessed to not having known the sea enough to “absorb its beauty.” So maybe he was wishing to bridge the gap by using as models the great nineteenth-century texts that spoke of cursed ships and ocean monsters, and in particular, he would have thought of Moby Dick (Lazzarin, ibid.). In a letter written March 29, 1935, Buzzati confirmed that Melville was one of his favourite authors: “Moby Dick. There’s an endless, long-winded, baroque novel, and some more, but it is indisputably extraordinarily brilliant.”[v]

Nevertheless, we do not seem to need to collect further biographical documents to answer the question about the relationship between the Colomber and Moby Dick. In the table of Miracles of Val Morel of same title, which Lazzarin considers the figurative version of the Colomber, it appears in fact an ironic distancing that is, at the same time, an admission. In the caption we read:

I know that certain closed circles of scholars entertain the belief that the Colomber is nothing more than an arbitrary plagiarism of the great White Whale immortalized by Melville. But I know equally well that they are wrong. Too many times was the Colomber spotted and described by witnesses too serious to be rejected, and one cannot doubt its existence. Every time, the monster — which we must call so because it is a marvel, not because it is the harbinger of woes — was seen of a greenish or green color, or blue greenish. Never white. Dino Buzzati, The Miracles of Val Morel (my translation).

Dino Buzzati, La balena volante, (The Flying Whale, 1957) in La boutique del mistero (The Mystery Boutique, 1968)

In other words, tendril-animals have nothing to do with the merveilleux of the previous centuries. This category of imaginary monsters is made possible by Freud’s discovery of the unconscious mind. These inventions are not mythical and their universality can only be found in a tentative symbolic analysis. But at the end of the night (the night of the conscious mind, or Calderòn de la Barca’s slumber of reason, the condition that produces monsters[vi]) the tendril-animal springs from the unconscious, and is psychologically real.

Francisco Goya, El sueño de la razón produce monstrous, 1797

The name

Marco Perale[vii], quoted by Lazzarin, investigates on the Spanish consonance of “colombre” (original spelling), by comparing it to culebra and culebrón (‘snake’ and ‘big snake’), as well as the slang word colombres (‘eyes’: Buzzati’s colombre has four in the 1971 table) and its derivatives columbrar (‘to peek’) and columbrón (‘the glance’).

Fact is, Buzzati was not familiar with Spanish, even though both the Spanish culebra and French couleuvre ‘snake’ derive from the same Latin base coluber-colubri ‘snake ‘, which is also the origin of the Italian aesculapian colubro ‘snake ’ (and more specifically: ‘snake of the family of Colubrid snakes’).

So what is the connection with the tendril-animals? Is the colomber a version in chiaroscuro of Moby Dick or is it a species of overgrown water snake, a waterhorse, a cousin of another animal of Buzzati’s Bestiary, the Serpenton? We are still in the field of myths, legends, the realm of the merveilleux. But Buzzati himself reveals that the idea from which his short story was born was a bizarre and a bit obsessive word:

Il colombre” […] was born from a [distorted English] noun: […] A friend of mine […] told me that her American friend, instead of saying ’ How many kilometers? ’ said ’ “How many colombers?”… She said that the Americans butchered the word. I liked this «colombers» word. Then I imagined a beast, a monster, and so this is where this story comes from  […].  Yves Panafieu, quoted by Lazzarin, pp. 153 – 154, my translation.

Il serpenton dei mari (The Big Sea Snake, in I miracoli di Val Morel, 1971)

Is “colomber” a tendril-word? A word that designates a non-existent reality, but which we cannot get rid of – unless we fictionalize it by writing a story? A confirmation could come from an interesting feature of the monster, a feature that differentiates the Colomber from the legendary marvels like sea snakes or the White Whale: that of not being perceptible by anyone but the predestined (“And the strange thing is that nobody can see him but the victim himself”).

So who is right, Stefano Roi, the protagonist, who spots the menacing shape of his persecutor on the horizon of all the seas on which he ventures, or the other sailors, who see, inexorably, nothing: “He sailed and sailed, and in the wake of his ship, day and night, in dead calm and in choppy waters, trailed along the colomber […] And no one on board could see the monster, except for him.”

Lazzarin thinks that this passage casts doubt on the existence of the beast; it is an obsession — the marine, externalized version of Mental Ants, which Stefano and his father can see:

The colomber is a huge fish, terrifying to behold, extremely rare.

Depending on the sea, and the people living by its shores, it is also called kolomber, kahloubrha, kalonge, kalu-balu, chalung-gra. Naturalists strangely ignore it. Some even maintain that it does not exist.

Another possible interpretation is that the author wanted to make sure that the doubt on the creature’s existence was caused by the scientists’ obstinacy vis-à-vis phenomena they cannot explain. I think that Buzzati, like Landolfi, subtly conveys that the Uncanny, or “the Unfamiliar”, (l’inquiétante étrangeté as Marie Bonaparte translated Freud’s die Unheimliche) is real, because it is real for the psyche.

I, Angelo Dal Pont, typographer at Polpet’s, was severely disturbed by mental ants, which said to me: You know you don’t exist, don’t you?[viii]


[i] The “elzeviro” is a neat and elegant typographic font created in the XVIth century by the engraver Christoffel van Dyck for the Dutch family of typographers Elzevir, who published classical works (particularly Latin and Greek) in accurate scholarly editions. This publishing house is the ancestor of Elsevier (Amsterdam), today’s leader in the scientific and medical publishing world. In the XIXth century’s Italian press, “elzeviro” became the term used to designate the opening article on the third page of a newspaper. It was usually a piece of literary or theatrical critique, or an erudite reflection on a topical or cultural theme.

[ii] Stefano Lazzarin, “Il Vipistrello, colombre, animale giglio : vampiri linguistici del Novecento italiano” (The Vesperbat, Colomber, Lily Beast:  Linguistic Vampires of the Italian Twentieth Century), in Arches de Noé, 2006.

[iii] In the Freudian sense of the Uncanny (“die Unheimliche,” literally, the Unfamiliar).

[iv] Yves Panafieu, Dino Buzzati: un autoritratto (Dino Buzzati: an Autoportrait) Milan, Mondadori, 1973, p. 48.

[v] Dino Buzzati, Lettere a Brambilla (Letters to Brambilla), edited by Luciano Simonelli, Novara, Istituto Geografico De Agostini, 1985, p. 228.

[vi] “The sleep of reason produces monsters.” Pedro Calderòn de la Barca, Life Is a Dream. Madrid, 1635.

[vii] Cfr. Marco Perale, Buzzati e lo sciamano. Fonti iconografiche e tematiche del ‘Colombre, Studi Buzzatiani, IX, 2004, pp. 37 – 46. Quoted by Lazzarin.

[viii] Dino Buzzati, op. cit.

3 replies to “’s 101 Weird Writers: #4 – Dino Buzzati

  1. Pingback: SF Tidbits for 2/13/12 - SF Signal – A Speculative Fiction Blog

  2. En los siglos XVIIIXIX, ya se daba otra vez gran importancia al significado de los sueños y varios autores se dedicaron a su estudio (Abercrombie, Maudle), que pensaban que la interpretación de los sueños podía ser útil a las personas por la información que contenían.

    Pero hasta finales del siglo XIX no se realizó un estudio científico de los sueños, que es el que os comentaba hace algunos días, ‘’La interpretación de los sueños’’ de Sigmund Freud. Esté fue el estallido para que se volvieran a interpretar los sueños con total entusiasmo, un periodo en el que se descubrieron muchísimas cosas e importantes, acerca de los sueños y su significado, y por suerte han llegado hasta nuestros días.

  3. Hi, Great article. The only thing I want to correct is your statement that Valmorel does not exist. It sure does. You mention Limana, well, Valmorel is just up the mountain from there. I know it well and have friends who Iive there. You can meet plenty of people who knew Dino there.