Last year, when I was browsing my parent’s bookshelves, I came across a mid 20th century novel my father used to read as a child. It was titled Don Camillo en de Kleine Wereld or The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi. I read it and immediately fell in love with the characters. I could definitely picture my dad reading about the adventures of the catholic priest Don Camillo and the communist mayor Peppone. I read the novel again this month and today I’m going to tell you something more about this stunning collection of stories.
According to Wikipedia, ‘most of the Don Camillo stories came out in the weekly magazine Candido, founded by Guareschi with Giovanni Mosca. These ‘Little World’ (Mondo Piccolo) stories amounted to 347 in total and were put together and published in eight books, only the first three of which were published when Guareschi was still alive’.
The story is actually based on a real priest, Don Camillo Valota. He and his communist ‘counterpart’ Peppone constantly compete with each other in the ‘Little World’ that is their Italian village after the second world war. The book consists of several short stories that could (and were intended at first to) be read separately, but are equally enjoyable when read as a whole.
Guareschi sketches a beautiful rural Italy that is vehemently divided between communists and Catholics – but he does so in a funny way. Don Camillo’s conversations with the figure of Christ in his church are the highlights of the book. They’re amusing (and not at all pedantic or resentful) and make the stories original. Guareschi doesn’t choose sides, he lets his characters struggle and emerge victorious and it is enjoyable over and over again.
The edition I have is my father’s and is from the 1950s. However, The Little World of Don Camillo is still in print and available via BookDepository.com. It is a light and enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes or would like to read short stories!
Have you ever heard of/read Don Camillo?