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!
Don Camillo and His Flock, by Giovanni Guareschi.
Copyright Giovanni Guareschi, 1952. Translated by Frances Frenaye. NEW YORK: Pellegrini and Cudahy, 1952. Library of Congress card catalog number 52-9359. First published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz, Ltd.; 1952 under the title Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son.
More adventures of the big, outspoken priest and his opposite number in the Communist camp. With both America and Russia sending over supplies and representatives in an effort to win the people’s allegiance (and votes), it’s up to Don Camillo and Peppone to negotiate a particularly Italian brand of peace in their little village. Whether their aim is to help get a local boy his big break in show business, to defend a thoroughbred dog from a cruel master, or to insure that no one in the Little World goes hungry when it can be prevented, this team proves that sometimes there’s no friend like a good enemy.
Don Camillo and His Flock (or, if you prefer, Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son) is a direct translation of the second Italian collection of Don Camillo stories, Don Camillo e il suo gregge (and the US title is a direct translation of the Italian one). A new translator, Frances Frenaye, was hired (wonder why — anyone know?); she would go on do several more of Guareschi’s books.
Curiously, both US and UK editions list a publication date of 1952, while the Italian on which they’re based wasn’t released until 1953. Flock has 34 chapters, eleven more than its predecessor, The Little World of Don Camillo. Perhaps, in the light of the first book’s success in English, fewer stories from the Italian original were omitted this time around.
As indicated in the chapter list below, the American version of this book contains one extra story (the final one, “Appointment at Midnight”) than its British counterpart, the latter opting to conclude with the trio of flood stories. I’m guessing that US publisher Pellegrini and Cudahy, known for publishing religious books, were especially taken with the Christmas story at the end of The Little World of Don Camillo and wanted Flock to end similarly.
- The Little World — A re-introduction to the Po River Valley and its hard-headed inhabitants
- The Thirteenth Century Angel — A parishioner’s bequest leads to the discovery that the church-tower angel is a work of art.
- The Dance of the Hours — The Reds have installed a new clock in the Town Hall, but it’s out-of-sync with the church’s clock.
- Rhadames — A local boy gets his big break as an opera singer; can Don Camillo cure his stage fright?
- The Stuff from America — Poor Straziami accepts a food parcel from Don Camillo, and then must face the Party.
- A Matter of Conscience — Don Camillo commissions Peppone to take some “Divine Providence” to Straziami.
- War to the Knife — When Don Camillo finds and reports a Red arsenal, Peppone gets revenge.
- The Polar Pact — The Reds occupy a local strip of land, and Peppone defies even the US Navy to remove them.
- The Petition — Hard-headed Tonini won’t sign Peppone’s “peace petition.”
- A Solomon Comes to Judgment — Peppone settles the case of two neighboring villages who must share a school.
- Thunder on the Right — Lightning strikes the church spire, but Peppone is paid back for his gloating.
- Red-Letter Day — Peppone believes he’s invited to move to Russia, and suddenly he’s not so sure it’s such a promised land.
- The Strike — A general strike is on and the village is suffering, until five mysterious strike-breakers get to work.
- Thunder — With the help of Peppone, Don Camillo acquires a hunting dog.
- The Wall — An unfortunately situated Madonna threatens an important building project.
- The Sun Also Rises — Peppone experiences doubts about Party tactics.
- Technique of the Coup d’Etat — Believing they’ve won the national elections, the Reds prepare to start the Revolution.
- Benefit of Clergy — New parents Smilzo and Moretta take their stand for the principle of Free Love.
- Out of the Night — Smilzo has second thoughts about his offering to the church.
- The Bicycle — A bicycle thief has some second thoughts of his own.
- The Prodigal Son — Brusco’s not looking forward to a reunion with his son.
- Shotgun Wedding — She’s a Catholic, he’s a Communist; what will it take to bring this Romeo and Juliet together?
- Seeds of Hate — A local village declares independence of Peppone’s rule…
- War of Secession — …and as war brews between the two villages, the river water rises.
- Bianco — An old trolley horse responds to one last call of the whistle.
- The Ugly Madonna — A particularly unattractive statue of the Madonna reveals her inner beauty.
- The Flying Squad — Though at odds in a propaganda war, Don Camillo and Peppone team up to save Peppone’s son.
- Horses of a Different Color — Old Romagnolo is determined not to have a church funeral when he dies.
- Blue Sunday — One son of the Little World finds it hard to be happy away from the land.
- Don Camillo Gets into Trouble — Exiled to Monterana after a violent episode, Don Camillo longs for a familiar Face.
- When the Rains Came — When the rains come, the village cries for its exiled shepherd.
- The Bell — The village is finally flooded, but Don Camillo holds the fort for his evacuee parishioners.
- Everyone at His Post — The flooded town is deserted, except for old Maroli, determined to die in his bed.
- Appointment at Midnight (US edition only) — Winter arrives; will Peppone’s boycott of the church last through Christmas?
Kate Dadey said:
so happy to find another Don Camillo fan. What can you tell me about movies (I have one in German, I think with Korean subtitles from Amazon! not much use to me) or the BBC series. I’m pretty addicted! Kate
Hi, Kate. There were five Don Camillo films made in the 1950s and ’60s with Guareschi’s cooperation (and sometimes participation); they starred French comedian Fernandel as Don Camillo and Italian actor Gino Cervi as Peppone. The first two in the series (The Little World of Don Camillo and The Return of Don Camillo) draw heavily from the first Don Camillo book; films three and four (usually rendered into English as Don Camillo’s Last Round and Don Camillo, Monsignor) have original scnearios but incorporate episodes you’d recongize from the books; and number five (Comerade Don Camillo) is a loose adaptation of the book of the same name.
Little World was dubbed into English soon after its release, and not badly. Orson Welles was tapped to be narrator/Voice of Christ, which adds a little bit of interest for an American or British fan (I’d think). Sadly, this version is hard to find — I have a VHS copy, and apparently Amazon was selling bad DVD copies at one stage, but I can’t recommend a source right now. What I *have* seen around (my local public library even has it) is a two-DVD set of the first two films (universally reckoned to be the best of the bunch) in Italian with English subtitles. Here is the link to buy it at Amazon (US). I notice Amazon also lists here a 4-disc region-free set of the first four films (so, no “Comrade”) in French with optional English or Korean subtitles (could this be what you have?). Finally, here‘s a listing for the set I have, all five films in Italian or French with a selection of subtitles (including English) and some special features– but it’s Region 2, so you need a special DVD player if you’re in the US.
There are a couple other (bad) Don Camillo movie adaptations, but the five with Fernandel are the only ones anybody means when he refers to “the Don Camillo movies.”
I also know a little bit about the BBC TV series with Mario Adorf as Don Camillo and a brilliantly cast Brian Blessed as Peppone. Twelve episodes were made in 1981. Some remember it fondly, but it wasn’t a hit and hasn’t been made available on DVD.
This page at the BFI website includes links to brief plot synopses for each of the episodes.
Duncan McLaughlan said:
It is my understanding that there is one minor but significant difference between Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son (the Gollancz omnibus edition) and the US version Don Camillo and his Flock (pub. Grosset and Dunlap) and that is that the US edition contains one extra story – “Appointment at Midnight”. That extra story opens with the sentence – “At last the big river returned to its bed and the people were busy putting their land and homes in order.”
Duncan– I’ve moved your comment to the top level rather than leaving it nested under Kate’s, since it wasn’t really a reply to her post). If that’s a problem, please let me know.
As for your point, I agree; the extra story seems to be the only important difference (other than the titles) between the US and UK versions of this book.
Jeanette Bennett said:
When I was a sophomore in high school my English teacher gave everyone in class a book to read. (she had about a half-dozen different titles.) Since I was “smart” she gave me the thickest one: The Brothers Karamazov. After class I went up to her and said “I’m not trying to get out of work, but I’m a very slow reader and I’ll never be able to finish this book in a semester.” I didn’t know at the time that I was dyslexic. Instead of giving me the next smallest novel, she gave me the smallest book: “The Little World of Don Camillo.” I fell in love with it and have dedicated my life to finding Guareschi’s other books. If I was a speed reader I probably never would have discovered Don Camillo. The stories are simple and funny on the surface, yet complex and poignant at their heart. So glad to find another fan!
Duncan McLaughlan said:
Welcome to the “club” Try the new edition “The Complete Little World of Don Camillo” – published in 2013 by Pilot Productions ISBN 978-1-900064-07-1. It contains a number of stories that have never before been published in English.
Jeanette Bennett said:
Duncan, can you let us know what stories are included in “Complete Little World” that are not in the original book?
Also, who is listed as the translator? Thanks!