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The Little World of Don Camillo
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Group reads > The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi (June 2019

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message 1: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8576 comments Mod
This thread is to discuss....


The Little World of Don Camillo (1948) by Giovannino Guareschi

..which won our Group Read poll for a book set in, or about, Italy

This thread will open on or around 1 June 2019

A bit more about The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi...

This tragicomical stories, often politically or socially charged, mostly situated in a fictional village on the Po called Boscaccio, in the period immediately after World War II, paint a clear picture of the post-war Italy. In this period the Italian Communist Party is very strong, but the Second World War and fascism are still vividly remembered. Boscaccio has a communist mayor named Peppone. He wants to realise the communist ideals, and the Roman Catholic priest Don Camillo is desperately trying to prevent this. But despite their different views these men can count on each other in the fight against social injustice and abuses.




message 2: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8576 comments Mod
Let the discourse commence......


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
I'm reading these stories and really enjoying them. Such a unique voice and a mischievous quality, and I love the author's little cartoons of the tiny angel and devil, although sometimes they give away what is going to happen in the story! The drawings are much bigger in the old hardback edition I have than on Kindle.

At times I could do with footnotes - the stories are very much rooted in the time, just after WW2, and there are some references which I'm struggling with, in particular in the story about the passing of Article 4/Article 7.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
As we've previously discussed over in the "What books are you reading at the moment?" thread, older editions of The Little World of Don Camillo are incomplete. Only some of the stories were translated into English by Una Vincenzo Troubridge for the 1950 edition.

The newer edition, first published in 2013 with a translation by Adam Elgar, is around double the length, including 16 previously untranslated Don Camillo stories and another 3 stories which don't feature the same characters. The paperback and Kindle editions have the title The Complete Little World of Don Camillo - confusingly, the Audible book doesn't have "complete" in its title, but Susan has checked the number of stories and it still appears to be complete!




Susan | 9104 comments Mod
These remind me so much of my childhood - I remember loving these books as a child.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I started to read this today. Although I enjoyed the first two stories I think I will ration myself to two a day.


Chrissie | 1431 comments I have just started this. I am doing the audiobook narrated by Pers Dudgeon. I am laughing at how Don Camillo talks to Il Cristo. I have done the introductions and the first two stories, which are all very short.


Chrissie | 1431 comments The first two are kind of similar, Andrew.


message 9: by Judy (last edited Jun 01, 2019 02:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
Guareschi's introduction in the newer Kindle edition of the Little World is completely different from the one in my old hardback edition, which is a witty mini-autobiography, including a short but powerful description of his struggle to stay alive in a concentration camp. (One line is: "I will not die even if they kill me.") Both introductions appear to have been written in 1948, but they are very different.

I've just had a look and found the autobiographical one online, but it is quite a bit longer and even better than the one in my 1955 book club edition, which appears to be a censored version.

http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/20...


message 10: by Chrissie (last edited Jun 01, 2019 10:05PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chrissie | 1431 comments Wow, that IS a fantastic introduction!

Thank you.

For ME, the introduction is more interesting than the stores themselves. They all have pretty much the same message! I have done seven stories.


message 11: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
Glad you liked the introduction, Chrissie. It makes me think it would be interesting to read his memoir of his time in camps, My Secret Diary.


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
As a child, I don't think I noticed the stories were quite similar. Obviously, as an adult, you read things in different ways. The introduction you posted was very good, Judy, thank you. Most interesting to read. I can't recall which edition I had as a child (a huge hardback, with a yellow cover, as I recall) but I doubt I read the introduction anyway.


Chrissie | 1431 comments Judy wrote: "Glad you liked the introduction, Chrissie. It makes me think it would be interesting to read his memoir of his time in camps, My Secret Diary."
I do l like non-fiction!


Chrissie | 1431 comments Susan wrote: "As a child, I don't think I noticed the stories were quite similar. Obviously, as an adult, you read things in different ways. The introduction you posted was very good, Judy, thank you. Most inter..."

Perhaps when one reads as a child one is more interested in plot than in analyzing each story's message. Different things happen in the stories, but it is not that which draws my interest.


message 15: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 551 comments I have started this and quite liked the introduction. I have read the first two stories, and can't say I found much in them. I will try the next soon and see if I feel any differently about them.


message 16: by Brian (last edited Jun 02, 2019 09:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian Reynolds | 398 comments There was some discussion in some thread about the number of stories. I will be reading the edition I had bought on entering high school in 1967, The Little World of Don Camillo The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi While Goodreads doesn't have a picture of the cover, the edition has 23 stories and 153 pages but, unfortunately, no intro.


Chrissie | 1431 comments Brian wrote: "There was some discussion in some thread about the number of stories. I will be reading the edition I had bought on entering high school in 1967, The Little World of Don Camillo.[bo..."

That is bad about the intro being missing; the intro is good.. When Camillo talks to Il Cristo consider this as him speaking to himself, his conscience.


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
I don't normally revisit books I enjoyed as a child, unless I read it to my own children and we never got around to this. I am listening to the last couple of stories this morning and, although I couldn't listen all the way through, I have enjoyed this and it was strange how much I remembered. I liked the constant war between Peppone and Don Camillo and the way that, despite themselves, they were begrudging comrades and, often, each others most likely confidante.


message 19: by Judy (last edited Jun 02, 2019 11:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "There was some discussion in some thread about the number of stories. I will be reading the edition I had bought on entering high school in 1967, The Little World of Don Camillo [bo..."

Brian, I posted about the number of stories in different editions in message 4 of this thread, following the earlier discussion in the 'What books are you reading?' thread, just in case you were looking for the info.

There are at least two author introductions - there's one in the new Adam Elgar translation, and another one containing a mini-autobiography, which is online. I'll just repeat the link to that one.
http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/20...


message 20: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I don't normally revisit books I enjoyed as a child, unless I read it to my own children and we never got around to this. I am listening to the last couple of stories this morning and, although I c..."

Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Susan. I hadn't previously read these - I'm only around 40% of the way through and am enjoying them, although I agree with comments that the stories can feel very similar if you read a lot of them together, so I am spacing them out!


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
I am not a great fan of revisiting books I liked as a child and I didn't nominate this one. I think I remember it so fondly that this coloured how I viewed it now - a little of the rosy tinted glass, perhaps? Still, it was an enjoyable read for me and I am pleased that I met up with Don Camillo and Peppone again.


message 22: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 1710 comments I nominated this one. My grandfather had copies of some of the books, so I read them as a child as well.
It is not really a model of friendship I would encourage in children, Don Camillo and Peppone spend a lot of time arguing and fighting, but they are good at working together for the important things.


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
I forgot you nominated it, Val. Well, thank you for prompting me to revisit it. I really did love the books as a child and yet, really, they are aimed more at adults, aren't they? The themes mostly revolve around politics and religion, which are difficult things to tackle at the best of times! Perhaps the simplistic, rather naive approach, helped the author to address some very complex themes.


message 24: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8576 comments Mod
Val wrote: "I nominated this one"


Aside from childhood memories, what inspired you to nominate it Val?

What do you like about it?


message 25: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 1710 comments We should have a fun option in the poll whenever possible and this is, but we could also have a serious debate on politics, religion, social conditions, post-war Italy, etc. if people felt so inclined.


message 26: by Brian (last edited Jun 03, 2019 08:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian Reynolds | 398 comments Thanks, Judy! I should have looked further in the WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING NOW? thread to find the posts I've copied below. After reading the posts, I wonder:
WHY DOES MY EDITION HAVE 23 STORIES NOT 21?
But It really doesn't matter as I want to read the same edition I read at age 14, though I may check someday to see which 2 extra ones I read. I think the varying number of stories is kind of funny. As Chrissie says, it does not make sense at all, which I find interesting.

message 1829: by Susan
May 25, 2019 09:15AM Mod
I have Don Camilo on Audible and I have 41 chapters, if that helps. There are various introductions, so chapter 13 is called 'Chapter 10.' This makes 39 stories, but I haven't finished listening yet, so can't be clearer than that.

message 1830: by Judy
May 25, 2019 09:15AM Mod
That's odd, Chrissie. The original book had 21 stories - now the new one, translated by Adam Elgar, has 19 additional stories, bringing the total to 40 - 37 Don Camillo stories and 3 non Don Camillo.

message 1831: by Chrissie (last edited May 25, 2019 09:26AM)
May 25, 2019 09:23AM
Great, I will count the stories as I listen. Audible responded with the weird information that the audiobook has a total of 19 stories, which does not make sense at all.


message 27: by Brian (last edited Jun 03, 2019 09:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian Reynolds | 398 comments Brian wrote: "After reading the posts, I wonder:
WHY DOES MY EDITION HAVE 23 STORIES..."


Mystery solved. I do have just the original 21 stories. I started reading and what were listed as the first 2 stories are not stories, but the famous INTRO and a second intro describing the Little World and allowing any offended priests and communists to attack him with a candle or hammer and sickle, respectively. They are titled in the Table of contents as HOW I GOT THIS WAY and THE LITTLE WORLD.


message 28: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
Val wrote: "We should have a fun option in the poll whenever possible and this is, but we could also have a serious debate on politics, religion, social conditions, post-war Italy, etc. if people felt so incli..."

I think it definitely makes me want to learn more about post-war Italy. It's clear from the stories I've read so far that lots of buildings have been damaged in the area, there is poverty and hunger and the facilities which Don Camillo and Peppone are fighting against one another are needed, whether the new church centre or "People's Palace" ends up being built first!


message 29: by Val (new) - rated it 4 stars

Val | 1710 comments That is one of the stories which has a bit more going on in the background.
Don Camillo says Peppone is getting money from the USSR and Peppone says Don Camillo is getting money from the USA (Marshall Plan), but it is quite clear that no money from either source is getting as far as this particular small town and perhaps not to others either. Both facilities were built with funds stolen from the Germans by Peppone, if I remember correctly.


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
Peppone has the money, but Don Camillo manages to extract some for his own project.


message 31: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 551 comments Half way through now, as I have been spacing out as Susan suggested as the stories are very samey. As an interlude they have worked well


message 32: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
I'm into the second half of the book now, and I think one or two of the stories feel a bit darker and with more about poverty - most of these ones were not translated originally.

'Rustic Philosophy' is a strange story - there is quite a long abstract discussion between Don Camillo and Jesus, but then the second half of the story, about a hungry man accused of being a scab for working during the general strike, is very bleak.


message 33: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
On the stories being very samey, I agree about some of them, but there are some in the later sections that are different - I've just read Juliet and Romeo, about a family feud, where Jesus doesn't feature at all and part of the story is quite grim (though compelling) .

If this and one or two others had been included in the original translation, perhaps it wouldn't have been seen so much as a book suitable for children?


Brian Reynolds | 398 comments After reading a few each of the first few days, I've settled into reading only one a day, generally in the morning. Yes, the stories are samey but that is what one expects with a weekly sitcom or daily cartoon. There is a comfort in the sameness.

It reminds me of the too brief period about 35 years ago when I was reading a daily Jeeves & Wooster short story each morning on the 30 minute bus ride to work many years ago. Yes, the stories were similar and Jeeves used the old noodle to save Bertie every day, but I arrived at work thinking God was in his heaven and all was right in the world. This collection is not THAT good, but it is good enough to make me start the day with a smile.


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
Yes, there is a comfort in the fact that Peppone and Don Camillo - however much they are at each others throats - eventually come together and so protect their little corner of the world.


message 36: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
Has anybody watched any adaptations of the stories? I see there are several 1950s French-Italian films starring Fernandel which are available on DVD and via YouTube, and there is also a 1983 Italian film starring Terence Hill, but the 1980s BBC TV series does not appear to be available anywhere.


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
No, I think I missed the BBC series, Judy. I went straight from the book in the 1970's to Audible now :)


message 38: by Judy (last edited Jun 16, 2019 02:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
I missed the BBC series too, Susan.

I'm getting on slowly with this and finding the later stories in the collection rather uneven - The Old Schoolmistress is great. with slight shades of the film Good Bye Lenin, but some of the others have a lot of slapstick violence for my taste, and misogyny in the case of The Painter.


message 39: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
I was just wondering about the real-life setting of these books, and found a nice website about the small town of Brescello, which is called "the little world of tourists" in Italian!

I see there are museums dedicated to Don Camillo and Peppone (this seems to be largely to do with the French/Italian films) and Guareschi, and there is also a park called after the author with a statue of him.

http://visitbrescello.it/en/welcome-t...


message 40: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 551 comments Finished now and spreading it out certainly helped. Pleased I read it


Brian Reynolds | 398 comments Jill wrote: "Finished now and spreading it out certainly helped. Pleased I read it"

Ditto. I finished it yesterday, and thought it got more serious in the last few stories. Though I enjoyed them, I'm not sure I want to visit the extra 19 that Judy describes. This is enough for now.
I also finished The Leopard. Along with his Don Camillo portrayal, Terrence Hill had a supporting role in the movie of The Leopard.


message 42: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
I've finished now too and am glad to have read it, even though the earlier stories did get rather samey. The biographical afterword at the ending was interesting. It was sad to learn that he was sent to prison for 13 months for a supposed libel even after writing this book, and said he suffered worse that time than he had in the concentration camps.

I really enjoyed the last three, non Don Camillo, stories, which are placed after the afterword for some reason! Very quirky and unusual, and giving a feel of the area.


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
Yes, I never thought of revisiting these childhood stories, and I won't get any further volumes, but I am glad I read them.


message 44: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
I'm quite surprised you enjoyed them as a child, Susan - although there is a lot of humour, some of them are quite grim and tragic, especially The Fear and The Fear Continues, towards the end, which were also in the older translation.

Then again, I suppose we probably all read a lot of books as children which aren't really children's books!

I enjoyed these but am not sure whether I will go on to further volumes - I would probably be more interested to read his memoirs, which all seem to be out of print. There is a list of these here, on the "Little Blog of Don Camillo", which is a website with lot of info.

https://doncamilloblog.wordpress.com/...


message 45: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4297 comments Mod
Browsing a bit more at the Little Blog of Don Camillo, which is clearly a great resource, I found a link to a Radio 4 programme about the books and author :

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b040...

There are also photos from the making of the radio show here:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01w...


Angelique I think I have a Don Camillo at home somewhere. I'll have a look tonight.


message 47: by Angelique (last edited Jun 21, 2019 02:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Angelique Oh, well, I guess my Dad really liked Don Camillo!

I've got two (the same) bundles, and 3 loose books:
(1) The Little World of Don Camillo
(2) Don Camillo and His Flock and I think
(3) Comrade Don Camillo
(4) Don Camillo Meets the Flower Children

And two for which I can't find the English titles:
Don Camillo in de bocht
Don Camillo en Peppone
the blurps on the back of the books indicate for both that these are further stories.

I'll try and squeeze The Little World of Don Camillo into my reading schedule for this month

PS, anyone interested in some of my doubles? They are in Dutch though.


Susan | 9104 comments Mod
I think I was about ten when I read these, Judy. There used to be a huge, really old library, which was a bit of a walk from where I lived, but my mother took me there as it was much bigger than our local one. It had a huge, curved staircase, and the children's section was downstairs, but when I was ten I got an adult ticket, to climb those stairs, and then I was reading all kinds of odd, and unsuitable, books! Christie, Maugham and Waugh were my absolute favourites, but I loved that library. The librarian said giving me an adult ticket was a 'favour' and she only allowed it as I was so quiet! Thank you librarian, wherever you are :)


Angelique I finished The Little World of Don Camillo last night. I'm not much a fan of short stories, but this was a fun and easy read.


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