About

Guareschi
This journal will be home to essays, articles, reviews, reminiscences, and other thoughts on the life and work of 20th-C. writer and artist Giovannino Guareschi (aka Giovanni Guareschi) by a long-time fan of his books (or at least of the books that were released in English translation between 1950 and 1970). Guareschi, of course, is best remembered for his series of humorous stories about the on-going conflict between the Catholic priest and Communist mayor of a small village in Italy’s Po River Valley in the years just following the Second World War. Don Camillo, the big cleric with fists of steel and heart of gold, converses frequently (and colorfully) with the Lord, Who continually challenges him to take the higher path in his dealings with his Marxist adversary, Peppone. The feisty priest, alas, isn’t quite able to confine his methods to the purely spiritual … but neither is Peppone always able to toe his Party’s line. Thus, even as the two do battle for the allegiance of the local populace, they find themselves at times seeing disconcertingly eye-to-eye.

The stories’ universal message of the possibility of “man’s humanity to man” is conveyed with a disarming simplicity which has survived translation into almost all of the world’s languages (!), and in the over 60 years since their debut in Guareschi’s periodical Candido, the characters of Don Camillo and Peppone have become beloved icons. The Cold War that provided their original context has ended; however, on the plane of ideas, Guareschi’s two combatants continue to vigorously champion their respective worldviews.

But there was more to Guareschi than his most well-known creations. You may also be acquainted with the famously mustachio’d author via his satirical political cartoons, his charming accounts of middle-class family life in post-war Italy, his prison-camp memoir, or even his Wodehousian comedies of manners. Journalist, painter, propagandist, poet, designer, screenwriter, architect, philanthropist … as his son Alberto once put it, “Don Camillo is only the tip of the iceberg” where Giovannino Guareschi was concerned.

Yours truly
Me? I’m a 50-ish American homemaker and teacher who has loved the Don Camillo books since discovering them as an adolescent in the early 1970s. I’m not Catholic, I don’t read or speak Italian, and, though I do remember the Cold War quite well, I was born far too late to experience the World War that preceded it. Yet somehow the Don Camillo stories touched me personally and caught my imagination as few other works of literature have done (and I’m an avid reader!).

More? Very well. I live in the vicinity of Baltimore, MD, and am in my third decade of a de facto career as an adjunct instructor of philosophy to reluctant undergraduates at several local colleges. A Protestant Evangelical Christian, I obtained most of my post-secondary education at Catholic institutions, and I like to think of myself an ecumenist. My politics are so confused as to defy labeling (a fellow American might call them “liberal”), and I’d really much rather talk about art anyway. I have three sons.

The site
These pages are ultimately the result of my unsuccessful attempts in January of 1998 to locate any online material in English about Giovanni Guareschi. I wasn’t doing serious research at the time: no, it was the beginning of the era of widespread home Internet access, and I (like many people with too little to say and too much time on their hands) was just putting together a vanity homepage. Thinking it would be nice to link to a Guareschi site or two as a way of indicating my (then) quarter-century’s interest in the Don Camillo stories, I unfortunately didn’t find any appropriate webpages in languages I could read (those pre-Google search engines missed the one that did exist). In the process of looking for them, however, I learned a lot more about Guareschi than I’d previously known.

Among my finds were the so-called “non-Camillo” books (six of which, it turned out, were obtainable in English), as well as the Fernandel-Cervi Don Camillo films (alas, virtually unknown — not to mention unavailable — in English… so I obtained and watched them in French!). But the happiest discovery of all was that the author’s children were still living in Italy and were eager to exchange information with anyone interested in preserving the memory of their father and his work.

I intend to generate “new” content here, of course, but a lot of what I’ll post at first are things that previously appeared online as part of a comprehensive Guareschi & Don Camillo website that I tried to maintain — or, more accurately failed to maintain — in the early 2000s. (Perhaps you remember “The Little World-Wide-Web Homepage of Don Camillo”?) A few other items that I’ll be sharing here initially saw the light as messages to a now-defunct e-mail list devoted to the author and his Little World. Seeing as how I spent several years researching and assembling all this eventually orphaned material, I am understandably committed to getting it back online in a format that better serves it.

Whether a blog is the answer remains to be seen, but even if the fruits of my efforts were destined to languish on my hard-drive, I could never regret them. The Guareschi project was a labor of love which taught me a lot and which became the occasion of my encountering (both via email and in person) many lovely fellow fans of Don Camillo. It even inspired me to make an unforgettable little trip to Northern Italy in August of 1998, to meet Guareschi’s son and daughter and to see some of the places that were part of their father’s enchanting world. That experience remains one of the highlights of my life.

Interested in Giovannino Guareschi and Don Camillo? Please comment, on this page or on one of my posts. I’d love to hear from you.

29 thoughts on “About”

  1. Glad to see your blog. I am a fan of don Camillo, as well. I visited Brescello in 2010 and enjoyed being there with my dear friend Isabella Bonatti. I’ll have to point her to your blog. She lives in Stiene, a town on the Po. I’ll look forward to following your blog. Grazie mille!

  2. Isabella Bonatti said:

    Ringrazio per questo blog!
    Sono un’ammiratrice di Guareschi, lo amo per la sua sincerità, per il suo coraggio di essere fuori dagli schemi, per la sua voglia di verità e per la sua capacità di affrontare temi profondi attraverso storielle apparentemente banali. Il suo umorismo, sempre intelligente e mai offensivo o volgare, mi regala momenti di vero divertimento ogni volta che rivedo un film di don Camillo… nonostante ormai conosca le battute a memoria!
    Grazie anche a Emerald che mi ha citata nel commento precedente, è una vera amica, l’aspetto con entusiasmo sulle rive del Po di Guareschi!
    Isabella

  3. Phil Hawley said:

    I just discovered Don Camillo, a few months before my 60th birthday, and my response is similar to yours 42 years ago. What a delight to come across Giovanni Guareschi and his fictional friends. I look forward to reading your entries here.

    Do you know of a good biography of Guareschi, translated to english?

    Phil

  4. Chirayush Patel said:

    Hi,

    It’s so nice to hear of people who also share the same joy that I felt 30 years ago as shy 14 year old in the stuffy library of my school when I came across “The Little World of Don Camillo”.

    I recently moved back to the UK and discovered an old leather trunk of mine in my parents attic and found that amoungst other things it contained a copy of the above mentioned book. My school library for some unknown reason had several of the books which i devoured and which somehow made being shy and solitary all the more bearable because I learnt that although people may disagree about the means they do often agree on the ends.
    Thank you so much for spending the time to put this blog together and I’m sure I’ll come back to it and follow your interesting posts.

    All the best,

    Chirayush

  5. What a delight to discover your blog. My dad introduced me to The Little World of Don Camillo nearly 50 years ago and I’ve been laughing aloud ever since. As I was age 10 or 11 when I began to read the stories they were a bit of a stretch at first. However, my dad was good enough to explain some of the background so I was able to understand enough of the politics and the war for them to make sense and I loved them from day one. Of course as time has passed I’ve understood the stories more and appreciated them in different ways. It’s a testament to GG’s writing and story telling ability that these colourful and often poignant vignettes of the human condition appealed to boy and man alike.

    Best

    Steve

  6. I just discovered your site. I have read four of the Don Camillo books starting in the early seventies when my mother became one of the volunteer librarians at a local non-denominational church. All the books were donated but had to pass a “screening” process to be sure they were suitable for “the flock”. Ironically, these four books were rejected and my mother brought them home. My father picked them up first, and slowly the remainder of the family read them. I enjoyed them immensely.

    Recently, I have take to reading again with a rooted Nook. I work long shifts (24 hours) waiting for something to go wrong with someone somewhere (911 – public safety) and decided to catch up on the volume of reading I had always wanted to get to, instead of vegetating in front of the television. So I have downloaded about a dozen ebooks so far (public domain) and have engrossed myself as time permits at work.

    I have “The Little World of Don Camillo” and “Comrade Don Camillo” in hardback presently. My father has the other two books, but I can’t recall what they are.

    I will forward the link to your page to my parents who will enjoy this enormously, as I have been doing so far.

    Thank you for your efforts!

    Dave

  7. Norman Morrow said:

    Hi
    I am a novice author, currently with a book on authonomy.com.

    http://authonomy.com/books/53181/the-con-quest-of-father-brennan-/

    My book evolves around the life of a non conforming catholic priest. Several people have commented that my work reminds them of Don Camillo and I am intrigued.

    Could you recommend english versions and with which one should I start.

    Your blog is great.

    Regards

    Norman Morrow

    • I started with The Don Camillo Omnibus and it is still on the shelf 50 years later. It’s available from abebooks.co.uk

      • Norman morrow said:

        Many thanks Steve i really look forward to reading it. Norman Morrow

      • Duncan McLaughlan said:

        I have just become aware that there is a new volume of stories that have not been translated into English. It is The Complete Little World of Don Camillo, edited by Piers Dudgeon and translated by Adam Elgar. It is an authorised translation and contains nineteen stories. The book is available on Amazon UK.

  8. Norman morrow said:

    Thanks for passing on this information

  9. Mark Smalley said:

    Congratulations on this very helpful Don Camillo site. I’d like to bring to the attention of your readers a radio documentary I’ve had the pleasure to make for BBC Radio 4. It’s called ‘Blind Date with Don Camillo’ and which is available here on the BBC’s iPlayer:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/galleries/p01wrjcg

    Best wishes,
    Mark Smalley

  10. Duncan McLaughlan said:

    I take it that you are aware of the publication of “The Complete Little World of Don Camillo”, published last year by Pilot Productions and contains new translations of stories that had already appeared in English and translations into English of some stories that had not been previously translated.

  11. @ Duncan — I know about it. Indeed, it’s the reason for this (woefully-under-tended) blog! See, I used to have a Don Camillo website which included some English-translated texts of D.C. stories, *published there with permission.* However, when the new translation was in the planning stages, I got a cease-and-desist over those perfectly legal stories and decided to shut down the whole site, just to be safe.

  12. Duncan McLaughlan said:

    So sorry about the web-site; it was extremely helpful and filled a much needed gap in information. Kind regards Duncan

  13. In response to the question about a biography of the author, this is an excellent book: The Don Camillo Stories of Giovannino Guareschi: A Humorist Portrays the Sacred by Alan R. Perry

  14. In Trivandrum which is at the southernmost tip of India, I grew up in the 60s n early 70s with Don Camillo and Peppone thanks to the British Council Library.. And Don Camillo AND Peppone would have felt abso at home in Kerala..it had the first communist govt in India and yet has the most God loving populace.. I can never forget that line about the river Po.. abso horizontal as water was meant to be.. and Guareschis tailpiece-“the Niagara falls are actually a great embarassment..”.. I too have scoured bookshops cause I wanted my kids to read Guareschi.. my grandchildren will probably read them on Kindle..
    So good to see this blog dedicated to dear Don Camillo n Peppone..

    • There is a new edition of short stories some of which are new authorised translations of stories that previously appeared in English but some that had never been translated before. The edition is entitled “The Complete Little World of Don Camillo”, is published by Pilot Production and is available from Amazon both in paper back and Kindle editions. The ISBN number is 978-1-900064-07-1. I understand further editions are to be published this year. Best wishes.

      • I have bought the new edition and I was wondering if anyone knows which are the new stories?

  15. Andy Smailes said:

    In common with just about everyone else here, I’m a Don Camillo addict of fifty years standing and overjoyed to hear that we’ll at last get to read the more than two hundred stories that, for some reason beyond my understanding, no one ever saw fit to publish in English.
    Having said that, I hope the new translations are up to scratch. Frenaye and Trowbridge were perfect, but the little I’ve seen of Mr Elgar’s work suggests that, as with L Conrad in the Hell’s Angels novel, the beautifully caught sense of charm, humour and wonder in Guareschi’s stories will be missing.
    Still, who can really complain? I’ll be up for them!

    • I see i’m a few years late to the Don Camillo club here, but i’m glad to be here now ! I’ve also been a fan for many years, my Papa introducing me to the books when i was a child.
      I thankfully have a full collection of the books listed here in this super wee blog, but like previous commenters i am curious to see the translations of the ‘missing’ english stories progressing.
      Andy Smailes – i do agree with you, Mr Elgar’s translations are a bit ‘clunky’ compared to the wonderfully evocative words of Lady Troubridge and Frances Frenaye (search for these versions instead people !! – Amereon Ltd publish some lovely little hardback copies, try AbeBooks), but as you say – bring on the new stories anyway – looking forward to hearing more from Don Camillo and Peppone !

  16. Andy Smailes said:

    Once you get used to the slight difference in style, Hell’s Angels is actually the best of them, although it too needs a better translation.

  17. Great blog! I’m a big fan of Dom Camilo, and was introduced to the stories by my dad. I’d really like to have a translation of one of the un-translated stories for him for his birthday. Does anyone know of a good story that is yet to be translated from the Italian?

    Thank you so much.

  18. Duncan McLaughlan said:

    In answering your question about which stories about Don Camillo in the new edition (I take it you are referring to The Complete Little World of Don Camillo published by Pilot Publications) are new I assume you mean stories that have never before been translated into English. I must emphasise that my list cannot be regarded as authoritative as to my knowledge the Don Camillo stories have been rendered into English by at least four translators and it is possible that there have been more. It should be pointed out that some stories do not have the same title in all translations. My list should therefore be treated with a degree of caution as those I believe are newly translated may have appeared in English in editions that I am not aware of. One indication of how my list should be treated with caution is that in his Editors Preface Piers Dudgeon mentions there are sixteen stories appearing together in English for the very first time – my list has seventeen stories and so clearly one of those is wrong.

    Hopefully having protected myself from the accusation of getting it wrong and my apologies and respect to Adam Elgar the translator of the new edition and to Piers Dudgeon my list is:

    The page numbers are as they appear in the Pilot edition.

    – The Proclamation
    – Evening Class – from the beginning of the story on page 18 to the end of the first sentence on page 21. The remainder of the story in the Pilot edition appears as Evening School in the Gollancz edition.
    – The Fire Raiser
    – A Punitive Expedition
    – The Bomb – from the beginning of the story on page 52 to the end of the sentence “But you are a scoundrel, all the same” on page 57 is new; the remainder of the story appears in the Gollancz edition entitled Crime and Punishment.
    – The Egg and the Hen
    – An Obstinate Old Man
    – General Strike
    – City Types
    – Rustic Philosophy
    – Juliet and Romeo
    – The Painter
    – The Festival
    – The Old Schoolmistress
    – Five Plus Five
    – The Dog
    – Autumn

  19. Enrique Uribe-Jongbloed said:

    Hello, there. I am currently undertaking research on the Colombian adaptation of the books and I would love to interview you for it. Hope you would like to take part in the project. Cheers – Enrique

  20. Bill Welland said:

    Thanks for an excellent informative blog. Did you know that the BBC has started re-broadcasting their radio series based on the books? http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tdmpn will work in the UK, but not sure about the rest of the world.

  21. andy smailes said:

    Thanks for the tip. I never heard about the original broadcasts, so this was a first hearing for me. Without wishing to appear too disparaging, there is little or no resemblance to the Don Camillo and Peppone I know. The old BBC series with Mario Adorf was also lacking in charm and spirit, but at least it came with a special edition omnibus. I wonder if that has also been re-released? It is still the best introduction to these wonderful stories.

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