Le désert des Tartares by Dino Buzzati

Le Désert des Tartares is an exciting book where the short chapters allow you to cling to a story that you would like to continue a little longer. 

The main character Drogo is an endearing human because of his stubbornness to stay at the Fort in order to achieve “something” with his life. We feel pain and empathy for this character. Indeed, to see that he will not realize his dream, the reader develops an intense pity. The fact that the war so desired by many soldiers is at the gates of the Fort, but that the hero cannot participate in it, makes the reader develop a feeling of deep empathy towards him. This book therefore reflects the desire of humans to accomplish something in their lives, to have fame and more broadly to have participated in history.


War is one of the pillars of this book. Indeed, until the end of the story, we resolve that the hero will not have his glorious moment, nor his war even if we hope that the latter will have it. However, in the last chapters, we observe with amazement that the war has been preparing since the beginning of the novel. Thus, this story finds a particular resonance at the present time when peace is threatened. At the same time, it is necessary to reflect in what context the novel was written. Indeed Buzzati wrote this book in the 1940s in the middle of World War II. This therefore allows for introspection on the nonsense of the war itself. The author manages to show without explicitly saying that the war is absurd.

The second frame of the novel focuses on the passage of time. Indeed, this book makes it possible to reflect on the perception of time and its flow. During 30 chapters, we see the entire life of a man pass by. This scrolling of time is also sworn to by the scrolling of life in general.

Through the story of Giovanni Drogo, a young soldier dreaming of a glory that will never come, it is a real existential quest to which Dino Buzzati invites us. This is one of the most fascinating books of Italian literature. 


Maud Jaquet



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