From Book 1: Reading ‘The Little World of Don Camillo’ is to travel to the Valley of the River Po, Italy’s widest and most fertile plain, with its unique atmosphere, culture and natural history. And to do so in the incomparable company of a cast of fictional characters who testify to the exquisite humour and humanity of their creator.
In the Little World, eternal forces grapple with the absurd drama of everyday life, and hilarious and unearthly things can happen.
If you keep this in mind you will have no difficulty in getting to know the village priest, Don Camillo, and his adversary, Peppone, the Communist Mayor. Nor will you be surprised when a third person watches the goings-on from a big cross in the village church and not infrequently intercedes . . .
In story after story, the hot-headed Catholic priest, Don Camillo, and the equally pugnacious Communist mayor, Peppone, confront one another, sometimes in a serious and violent manner.
The clever bit is the way Guareschi engineers a resolution to the conflict and transforms the situation to the great benefit of the local community, so that the two men put their political convictions aside and, however begrudgingly, develop respect for one another.
To enable this, the author creates a third main character, his finest creation and the most surprising. Il Cristo presides over proceedings from above the altar of the town church and counsels Don Camillo, exposing and undermining the stubborn priest’s personal politics and prejudices and, with fascinating insights and gentle humour, suggests paths of action which, with the benefit of hindsight, we come to see make things right.
Guareschi claimed that the voice from above the altar was simply the voice of his own conscience, but in the stories it is a living reality which enables solutions so simple that they are beyond the reach of political minds clouded with ideology and the need to win.
Guareschi’s message is that what works at the level of the Little World can be made to work universally, the world over.
More than fifty years on, these enchanting, wise and strangely moving stories of life in the Lower Plain continue to enthral millions of readers of all ages around the world. They have been feted not only in books but in films, in series on TV, on radio and most recently on YouTube. In this newly translated volume, many are available in English for the very first time.
About the Author
Giovannino Guareschi, known as Giovanni to his millions of English language readers, was born at Fontanelle in the Valley of the Po on the 1st of May, 1908. His father wanted him to become a naval engineer. He, for the very enjoyment of going the opposite way, determined to become a lawyer, but found his vocation when he sent some cartoons he had drawn to the satirical magazine, ‚Bartoldo‘. Later he founded his own magazine, ‚Candido‘, and wrote 347 stories featuring Don Camillo, a character who has done for Italy what Cervantes Don Quixote did for Spain.
About the Translator
Adam Elgar, the translator of this the first new English translation of Don Camillo since 1952, is a young poet and award-winning translator with a profound empathy with the spirit of Italy.
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