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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fantasy never dies

Dino Buzzati, I misteri d'Italia [The Mysteries of Italy], Milan: Oscar Mondadori, 2009, pages 220, euros 9.50

Dino Buzzati (1906-1972), writer, journalist, artist, of Medieval Hungarian origins (Buzàt from Buda-Pest) and whose mother was the last descendant of an important dynasty of Venetian Dogi, has been the most important Italian fantasy author of the 20th century. The fantasy genre pervades basically all of his production, from short stories to novels, from comics to paintings -- even his articles as a journalist, as it is shown by this collection of would-be news reports published in the mid-Sixties in Il Corriere della Sera, the most important Italian newspaper.

Here Buzzati describes a country that was just then becoming a so-called "rich" one, but kept old traditions inside. The tour among supernatural places includes this phenomenon in its broader sense: haunted houses, ghosts, mediums, apparitions of Virgin Mary, and UFOs which are a modern version of witchcraft (he says, possibly echoing Lovecraft?). Imagination continually mingles with 'real' personages like Federico Fellini and Gustavo Rol, and the two levels clarify each other.