Tuesday, 18 July 2000

Giovanni Guareschi: Comrade Don Camillo (1964)

Translation: Frances Frenaye, 1964
Edition: Gollancz, 1964
Review number: 538

The magazine in which the later Don Camillo stories were published folded as the Italian political situation changed and people lost interest in the old battle between the Church and the Communists. Comrade Don Camillo was published in its last few issues, and is unique in the series in that it was conceived as a unified narrative.

The plot is basically that mayor Peppone, now a Senator, is offered the chance to take a group of faithful members of the Communist Party on a trip to the Soviet Union. Don Camillo persuades Peppone to take him in the guise of one of these Party members, because he is curious to see something of the truth behind the propaganda.

It is an interesting if implausible idea, thought the principal virtue of the Don Camillo series, its charm, is distinctly weakened when the tales are removed from their native Po valley.

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