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The Bewitched Bourgeois

The Bewitched Bourgeois

Fifty Stories

by Dino Buzzati, translated from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti

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The modern Italian writer Dino Buzzati wrote a huge body of short fiction, several hundred pieces, spanning a forty-year period. They offer a remarkable inventory of fantastic premises and tropes, international in the reach of their geographical settings, at times commenting on Italian issues but usually reflecting the worldwide horrors, catastrophes, and fanaticisms that characterized the twentieth century.

A journalist for much of his life, Buzzati was adept at turning current events into fantasies that depicted social and political nightmares. He challenged the ideological complacencies of his era in accessible stories that solicit the reader’s vicarious response, mixing sentiment, humor, and tragedy. Here Poe and Kafka meet Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone.

Lawrence Venuti presents a retrospective anthology that ranges from Buzzati’s first publications to texts written as he was dying of cancer. Buzzati’s own book-length selections are sampled, so that previously untranslated stories join new versions of classics like “Seven Floors,” an absurdist tale of a patient fatally caught in hospital bureaucracy; “Panic at La Scala,” where, fearful of a left-wing revolution, the Milanese bourgeoisie are imprisoned at the opera house; and “Appointment with Einstein,” in which the scientist encounters a gas station attendant who is the Angel of Death.

Venuti’s crisp translations re-create Buzzati’s technique of making the fantastic seem frighteningly plausible, establishing unreal worlds that disrupt dominant notions of what is real. The Bewitched Bourgeois is a definitive gathering of Buzzati’s work in short fiction.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681378671
Pages: 368
Publication Date:


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