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The Little World of Don Camillo – Part 2

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A few tidbits about that first Don Camillo book:

Some history:
The Little World of Don Camillo is, of course, a translation of the very first Don Camillo book in Italian, Mondo piccolo: Don Camillo (Rizzoli, 1948). Credited with helping the Christian Democrats secure victory over the Communists in the Italian national election of 1948, the controversial book had became a runaway bestseller in Europe before coming to the attention of Sheila Cudahy, the distaff side of the American Catholic publishers Pellegrini & Cudahy (later acquired by Farrar, Straus, et al.), who worked hard to bring Don Camillo to an English- speaking audience. Una Vincenzo Troubridge, better known professionally as Colette’s first translator into English (and better known in general as the companion of author Radclyffe Hall), did the translation. Continue reading

The Little World of Don Camillo – Part 1

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With this post, I begin the promised series of entries on each of the Don Camillo books in English. Here, then, is the one that started it all:

The Little World of Don Camillo, by Giovanni Guareschi.
Copyright Giovanni Guareschi, 1950. Translated by Una Vincenzo Troubridge. NEW YORK: Pellegrini and Cudahy, 1950. Published simultaneously in Canada by George J. MacLeod, Ltd., Toronto. First published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz, Ltd.; 1951.   Continue reading

The Don Camillo Books in English – Intro.

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s FAQ, Giovannino Guareschi wrote 347 Don Camillo stories between 1946 and 1966. They were originally published individually — one chapter at a time, if you will — in Italian periodicals, the vast majority of them debuting in Guareschi’s own weekly paper, Candido, between 1946 and 1960. Then, from time to time, some of the stories were collected and published in book form, three such volumes appearing in Italian during the author’s lifetime (in 1948, 1953, and 1963) and a fourth just posthumously (in 1969). [In subsequent decades more posthumous collections were published in Italian, culminating in the late 1990s with a complete, multi-volume omnibus entitled Tutto Don Camillo.]   Continue reading

A Don Camillo FAQ

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confessionalWho are Giovanni Guareschi and Don Camillo?
You’re kidding, right? 🙂 Okay, here goes: Guareschi was an Italian political journalist who lived from 1908-1968, and Don Camillo is a fictional character he created for a series of stories which ended up becoming very well known. In the stories, Don Camillo, a Catholic priest, carries on a friendly enmity with Peppone, the Communist mayor of his little village, during the height of the Cold War. The hot-headed priest consults frequently with the Christ on the altar cross in his church, and the reader is privy to the Lord’s often provocative answers.

Why do I sometimes see the author’s name written as “Giovannino” Guareschi?
Because that was his real name! “Giovannino,” is usually a diminutive of “Giovanni” (in English, the two names would be “Johnny” and “John,” respectively), so it’s not surprising that many people simply assumed that the name on “Nino” Guareschi’s birth certificate must be the more formal “Giovanni.” Included among those who got it wrong were the author’s publishers, and that’s why the name on your edition’s dust jacket may read “Giovanni Guareschi.” The publishers were made aware of their error and eventually switched to using “Giovannino” in Italy and much of Europe, but no move was ever made to correct things for the English-speaking audience (for fear of confusing loyal readers and losing sales, I suppose).   Continue reading

How I met Don Camillo

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I bought the book at the secondhand table of a church bazaar, almost 40 years ago; I’ll bet I paid a quarter.  And I’m still not sure exactly what it was about that serious-looking, yellow-jacketed volume that caught the attention of an adolescent girl whose normal reading fare ran to romances and Nancy Drew. Consider: they were translated Italian stories, a decade or two old, set in an utterly alien post-war period and featuring such unusual characters as a hot-tempered Catholic priest, a not-unsympathetic Communist politician, and a talking Crucifix. It was the early 1970’s, and I was an unsubtle 12- or 13-year-old Protestant American kid. A bookworm, sure, but not widely read enough to get the cover blurb’s reference to the author as “an Italian James Thurber.” So I wonder why, after quickly glancing at the inside flap and turning a few pages, I didn’t just put it down and head to the cashier with my other, more predictable choice, Anne of Green Gables?    Continue reading