Don Camillo and Peppone are the fictional protagonists of a series of works by the Italian writer and journalist Giovannino Guareschi set in what Guareschi refers to as the "small world" of rural Italy after World War II. These "Little World" Italian: Mondo piccolo stories amounted to in total and were put together and published in eight books, only the first three of which were published when Guareschi was still alive. Don Camillo is a parish priest and is said to have been inspired by an actual Roman Catholic priest, World War II partisan and detainee at the concentration camps of Dachau and Mauthausen , named Don Camillo Valota — Peppone is the communist town mayor. The tensions between the two characters and their respective factions form the basis of the works' satirical plots. In the post-war years after , Don Camillo Tarocci his full name, which he rarely uses is the hotheaded priest of a small town in the Po valley in northern Italy.
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Giovannino Guareschi was an Italian journalist, cartoonist and humorist who lived at Parma, near the River Po. He is best known for his Don Camillo books. As he himself explained, his parents wished him to be a naval engineer: consequently he studied law, made a name as a signboard painter, and among other jobs, gave mandolin lessons.
His father had a heavy black moustache under his nose; Giovanni grew one just like it. He was not bald, wrote eight books, and was 5' 10" tall. And I have a motor-cycle with four cylinders, an automobile with six cylinders, and a wife and two children. As a young man he drew cartoons for Bertoldo magazine. When the war came he was arrested by the political police for, he says, howling in the streets all one night He had also been criticising Benito Mussolini's government.
In he was drafted into the Italian army and became an artillery officer. After Mussolioni's removal, he was captured by the Germans at Alessandria and says that he then adopted the slogan: "I will not die even if they kill me. Back in Italy after the war, he became editor in chief of Candido magazine in Milan. He criticized and satirised first the Communists, then the Christian Democrats of whom he had been a supporter. In he was charged with libel for publishing two facsimile wartime letter from a resistance leader and former Prime Minister asking the allies to bomb the outskirts of Rome so as to demoralise German collaborators, as a result of which he spent days in Parma's jail.
Starting in , he began spending several months a year in Switzerland because of health problems. In Candido ceased publication, and the next year Guareschi had his first heart attack.
He had his fatal heart attack in Although he did not usually go to Mass, he was a believing Christian, and firmly anti-Communist. If some of his stories seem a little dated now, it must be remembered that they were mostly written and set in the middle of the Cold War. Don Camillo is a Roman Catholic priest, and "a skilled hunter and fisherman". He is "a big man and about as graceful in his movements as a division of armoured cars". He is "equipped with outsize bones and muscles" and and wears a size 12 shoe.
He is able to tear a pack of cards in two, just using his bare hands. His parish is a little village, the author explains, "somewhere in the Valley of the Po River. It is almost any village on that stretch of plain in Northern Italy. There, between the Po and the Apennines, the climate is always the same - the landscape never changes and, in country like this, you can stop along any road for a moment and look at a farmhouse sitting in the midst of maize and hemp and immediately a story is born Many things can happen that cannot happen anywhere else.
Here, the deep, eternal breathing of the river freshens the air, for both the living and the dead, and even the dogs have souls. If you keep this in mind, you will easily come to know the village priest, Don Camillo, and his adversary, Peppone, the Communist Mayor. You will not be surprised that Christ watches the goings-on from a big cross in the village church and not infrequently talks, and that one man beats the other over the head - but fairly, that is, without hatred - and that in the end the two enemies find they agree about essentials If there is anyone who is offended by the conversations of Christ, I can't help it; for the one who speaks in this story is not Christ, but my Christ - that is, the voice of my conscience.
The first story about Camillo appeared in Candido magazine for December 23rd, After it came out, the author tells us that "I received so many letters from my two dozen subscribers that I wrote a second story about the big priest and a big red mayor of the village in the Po River Valley Two hundred times I have pulled the strings and make them do the most extravagant things that anyone can imagine.
So extravagant that often they are literally true. The stories, which are set in the s and early s, start by being very short, and sometimes rather slight, but they get longer and more realistic, if less comic, in Don Camillo's Dilemma. Many of them are still entertaining, and each sometimes links on to the next in order to tell a continuing story. Occasionally, though, there is a sudden break in the continuity, as when Peppone discovers that he cannot pay for his new premises and has to sell up and work in Milan - but there is no mention of any of this in the next story in which he is as prosperous and firmly established as ever.
Comrade Don Camillo, although still first published as a series of magazine stories, is the one book which reads like a continuous novel. It is the amusing, if unlikely, story of how Peppone,who has become a senator!
As he had told Peppone before they set out, "As far as I'm concerned, I'm hoping it Russia isn't as bad as our papers paint it. That way they'll stay quietly at home and not go bothering other people. As he tells Peppone, who has just bought a mismatching but expensive pair of Russian socks: " Beauties! We couldn't make anything half so good. The idea of having one longer than another is particularly clever.
No man's feet are exactly the same. But some other stories, such as the one in which a boy get shot dead by a gamekeeper, or in which a young girl gets run over and killed, are far from funny.
And, as in a story about a characterful runaway dog, the reader can get really involved. Much of the entertainment comes from the conflict between Don Camillo and the Communist Mayor, Peppone. It is very much a love-hate relationship, resorting often to the use of physical force on both sides although it is Camillo who turns out to be the stronger fighter. It is only by knocking Peppone out in a fight in the church "Now, Don Camillo!
The point of the jaw! However, in the end, they settle for Libero Camillo Lenin. The only difficulty is in telling which is which. The Christian Democrats offer him a job at the garage and a new suit of clothes if he would join them. The two conflicting groups are even prepared to combine their efforts for the good of the village but "Renzo only shook his head".
Finally Don Camillo is persuaded to put their case, but Renzo still refuses to agree: "I have my dignity, Father. I will hire you as bell-ringer. What more suitable occupation could he hope to find?
He thought it over for five whole minutes and then shook his head. The bells have to be rung in the morning, and that's when I go to the city to buy the Sport Gazzette.
In matters of stubbornness Don Camillo was something of an expert but in this case all he could do was mutter some semi-biblical phrases about the stiff-necked race of sports fans.
The political in-fighting may get rather tedious, although there is an amusing story in which a visiting artist uses a belligerent communist woman as his model for a church Madonna much to Camillo's dismay , and another in which Camillo refuses to make use of a local band for his religious procession because he had previously heard them playing the Internationale - but actually ends up with four bands.
But many of the local characters really do come alive. Camillo is very much an old-fashioned priest, with simple traditional beliefs, and little interest in, or understanding of, contemporary theological debates.
Just "a poor country priest He had served as a military chaplain during the war and was never afraid to say what he thought. His bishop tries to keep him in order by sending him away from time to time to a remote mountain village - but he is fighting a losing battle, as the villagers refuse to accept any other priest that they are sent. As he says, "When I put my mind to it, I certainly know how to express myself!
So when Peppone arranges for an important visitor to broadcast communist propaganda from a large platform in the big square and directs loudspeakers right at the church, Camillo drowns out the sound by "leaping and bounding cheerfully in the bell-chamber of the church tower When a football match is arranged between the mayor's and the priest's teams, Peppone warns his players, "You have got to win or I shall smash in every one of your faces.
The Party orders it for the honour of a downtrodden people! I make no threats; I merely remind you that the honour of the parish is in your hands. Also in your feet. Therefore let each of you do his duty as a good citizen. Should there be some Barabbas among you who is not ready to give his all even to the last drop of his blood, I shall not indulge in Peppone's histrionics with regard to the smashing of faces.
I shall merely kick his backside to a jelly! He even sorts out an operatic tenor a who has been singing false notes with "a kick powerful enough to launch a Caruso". Camillo is far from being a conventional saintly figure, and has been known to go poaching and to carry a tommy gun strapped under his cassock.
He is quite prepared to don a false beard and moustache and knock out a champion boxer - or even toss a bomb onto the roof of the People's Palace, thus exploding a case of dynamite that had been hidden there, so saving the village from an even worse danger. I did wrong, I admit it, and I shall repent. I must ask for an extension. Come the s, Camillo has little time or patience for the follies of modern youth, such as those of his niece, the dreadful Flora, about whom he has one of his regular chats with the figure of Christ on his big cross: "Dear Lord, if the young people make a joke out of the most serious things in life, what on earth is going to become of your church?
The fact is, God does not need men. It is men who have need of God. Light exists even in a world of the blind. As somebody once said, 'Though they have eyes, yet they cannot see'. The light won't go out just because there's nobody to see it. Why does she extort, rob, steal and cheat to get something she could have just by asking for it?
Don Camillo, you have to help those who still have faith and keep it intact Every day men of many words and no faith are destroying the spiritual heritage and faith of other people. Men of every culture and religion. It is only occasionally that Camillo has to act as a detective, as when he comes across a young man whom he distinctly remembers as having buried during the war. He asks the Christ for help. Why ask God to tell you the truth when you have only to seek it within yourself?
Look for it, Don Camillo. In another story he catches one of the Peppone's supporters breaking into the church, and has to do some real detective work in order to reveal the intruder's real motive, before "giving him a hearty kick in the pants".
It is this ability to work out what is going on behind the scenes that accounts for much of his success in his struggles with Peppone - although he realised that "Christ did not altogether approve of his leanings towards the trade of a detective". He is another large man he too can tear a pack of cards in half - but only just and it is he who usually comes out the worse for their encounters. He calls themselves a Christian but is invariably downright rude about the clergy particularly Don Camillo and the Pope, but he still encourages his followers to get their children baptized and get married before the altar.
Want some light, enjoyable reading? The two primary characters in this series are Don Camillo, a Catholic priest, and his constant antagonist Peppone, the village mayor. The stories take place during the height of the Cold War in a small rural Italian town…. Don Camillo is a strong-willed but wise priest constantly at odds with the cunning Communist Mayor Giuseppe Peppone Bottazzi.
Book Review: The Don Camillo Series
Giovannino Guareschi was an Italian journalist, cartoonist and humorist who lived at Parma, near the River Po. He is best known for his Don Camillo books. As he himself explained, his parents wished him to be a naval engineer: consequently he studied law, made a name as a signboard painter, and among other jobs, gave mandolin lessons. His father had a heavy black moustache under his nose; Giovanni grew one just like it. He was not bald, wrote eight books, and was 5' 10" tall. And I have a motor-cycle with four cylinders, an automobile with six cylinders, and a wife and two children. As a young man he drew cartoons for Bertoldo magazine.
The Little World of Don Camillo : No. 1 in the Don Camillo Series
Giovannino Guareschi was born into a middle-class family in Fontanelle di Roccabianca , Province of Parma , in In his family went bankrupt and he could not continue his studies at the University of Parma. After working at various minor jobs, he started to write for a local newspaper, the Gazzetta di Parma. In he was drafted into the army, which apparently helped him to avoid trouble with the fascist authorities. When Italy signed an armistice with the Allies in , he was arrested as an Italian military internee and imprisoned with other Italian soldiers in camps in German-occupied Poland for almost two years, including at Stalag X-B near Sandbostel. After the war Guareschi returned to Italy and in founded a monarchist weekly satirical magazine, Candido. He criticized and satirized the Communists in his magazine, famously drawing a Communist as a man with an extra nostril , and coining a slogan that became very popular: " Inside the voting booth God can see you, Stalin can't ".