The House That Nino Built — Part 1

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In one of his later essays, Giovannino Guareschi explains that, as an author, he’d created two sets of characters: one “for outside stories, for export” and another “for the inside stories.” The first group, we know well; it comprises Don Camillo, Peppone, and the other denizens of the Little World. The second group is perhaps less well-known among Guareschi readers in English, but not for real lack of opportunity to meet its members. For they are the author’s own family, and they are featured in three collections of stories and essays published in English in 1953, 1966, and 1970, respectively.   Continue reading

The non-Camillo Books in English — Intro.

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Many of those familiar with Giovannino Guareschi’s Don Camillo books are unaware that among the Italian humorist’s other translated writings are several volumes set in other “little worlds.” For instance, there’s Guareschi’s world of home and hearth, represented in English by three books of comic stories about the author’s family. And there’s also the world of Continental high society, or GG’s stylized version thereof, which readers in English can visit via two charming farces dating from the beginning of the author’s career. Finally, there is the dark world of the German internment camp where Guareschi spent several years during the Second World War; his collected prison writings round out the works available in English.   Continue reading

Guareschi biography — Part 1

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First, let me welcome a few readers who have recently found and commented on some of my earlier posts. Second, I should apologize for the long gap between my previous update and this one–I hit the busy season at work and somehow managed to let Giovannino Guareschi’s 104th birthday pass without noting it here! By way of compensation, I’ll devote this post and the next to the GG biography from my old Don Camillo site. Enjoy!   Continue reading

Don Camillo Omnibus

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I’ll conclude this initial series of posts on the Don Camillo books in English by mentioning the omnibus phenomenon. Over the years — especially during the early years of their popularity — the Don Camillo books were re-released in various editions combining two or more titles under one cover. All of these omnibuses (omnibi???) draw their material from the original books, and contain nothing new (if anything, they might omit some drawings or introductory material).

The only one I own, and can therefore tell you a little bit about, is a special one that came out in 1980, comprising the first five of the six books (i.e., all but Don Camillo Meets the Flower Children). It was issued by the British publisher, Gollancz, as a kind of companion to a then-upcoming Don Camillo TV series by the BBC — in fact, the book’s dust jacket features some nice glossy photos of the two lead actors (Mario Adorf and Brian Blessed) in the roles of Don Camillo and Peppone.   Continue reading

Don Camillo Meets the Flower Children

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Guareschi’s final Don Camillo book in English (and the last of the original Italian ones) was published posthumously and is the second to have the feel of a novel rather than a short story collection. It is distinguished from all of the others, however, in that it pits the wily priest against a new enemy, one which is in many ways as formidable as Communism ever was: Modernity.   Continue reading

Comrade Don Camillo

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For those who’ve lost count, we’ve reached the fifth volume of Don Camillo in English. US & UK Fans waited seven years — the longest gap in the series — for this 1964 follow-up to Don Camillo Takes the Devil By the Tail, but they surely must have felt Comrade Don Camillo was worth it. Reading more like an actual novel than the usual loose connection of stories, and with a mood as timely as it was timeless, this book also had the distinction of being the first to take our Po Valley heroes out of their familiar milieu.   Continue reading

Don Camillo Takes the Devil By the Tail

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Like Don Camillo’s Dilemma before it, the fourth Don Camillo book in English isn’t a translation of any particular Italian book, but rather a collection assembled specially for Guareschi’s Anglophone audience. And like an even earlier book in the DC series, it’s one whose American and British editions differ slightly from each other.   Continue reading

Don Camillo’s Dilemma

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We come now to the first of two Don Camillo volumes in English which had no Italian counterpart. Both were published in the US and UK during the ten-year gap between the release of the second and third Italian Don Camillo books (the ones known in English as Don Camillo and His Flock and Comrade Don Camillo). Why such a gap existed in Italy, I don’t know– I guess there was less of a need for Don Camillo to appear frequently in book form in his country of origin, where new stories about the Little World continued to appear individually on a regular basis in Guareschi’s weekly paper Candido. The English-speaking world, however, had no access to the big priest except through story collections in book form: luckily for us, Guareschi’s US and UK publishers gave us this one.   Continue reading

Don Camillo and His Flock

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The second Don Camillo book in English goes by two names, depending which side of the pond you encounter(ed) it on. This has tricked more than one Amazon customer, some responding with spiteful 1-star reviews when they learn that, having just bought a secondhand copy of Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son expecting new stories, they’ve actually acquired the text of Don Camillo and His Flock again (or vice-versa).

That said, it’s definitely worth owning at least once!   Continue reading

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