Monday, October 15, 2007

The little world of Don Camillo, By Giovanni Gaureschi – A eulogy

I am not quite sure how old I was when I first read this book by Giovanni Gaureschi. Most probably, I was in the 6th - 8th standard of my development (read destructive) stage. But I clearly remember the emotion the book evoked in me, the first time I set my eyes on it.

The cover was black and dusty. It did not look attractive at all. I was not impressed. This seemed to be one of those “Appa-Amma” level books which were way beyond my understanding. Till date, I am not quite sure why I went ahead and opened the book against my gut feeling. But after reading it, I found out that I had some real lousy gut feelings. The book itself belonged to some public library. Nobody in the family knows till date how that book got there, but nobody is complaining either!

This extremely simple and humorous story takes place in a sleepy Italian town, by the side of river po. It deals with the relation ship between a priest, Don Camillo, the town’s communist mayor, Peppone and Christ on the cross who has decided to intervene directly in most matters, lest things get out of control. The protagonists are at loggerheads most of the time and at fisticuffs the rest of the time, except Christ of course, since he is nailed on the cross!

The story hits you like a ton of bricks. The plot is so fresh, the ideas so innocent and the presentation so simple that one cant help imagining the whole story in 3-D! I like Harry Porter books, my respect for the author however is for her ability to write a novel that can be read and understood by people of all ages. Giovanni Gaureschi is a master of this art. The ideas put forward in this book are the experience of a lifetime and really deep stuff but written with such simplicity that even me, the 11-12 year old kid could understand them beautifully.

I have desperately wanted to read other works of this author for a long time, but since this was an out of print edition and an old book I had very little hope of ever finding the next in the series. But with the advent of Google, it was just a matter of a few clicks!

A review I found on the net about this book is pasted below
Giovanni Guareschi--is best remembered for his series of humorous stories about the on-going conflict between the Catholic priest and Communist mayor of a small village in Italy's Po River Valley in the years just following the Second World War. Don Camillo, the big cleric with fists of steel and heart of gold, converses frequently (and colorfully) with the Lord, Who continually challenges him to take the higher path in his dealings with his Marxist adversary, Peppone. The feisty priest, alas, isn't quite able to confine his methods to the purely spiritual ... but neither is Peppone always able to toe his Party's line, so that the two find themselves seeing disconcertingly eye-to-eye at times.”

As a kid growing up in communist Kerala, I was able to relate to the story even better. During those days, I never bothered to read the author’s note or the publisher’s note of any book. All this changed the day I started reading this book. The Author’s foreword is so impossibly humorous, that I sometimes wonder whether the story is as good as the foreword! Even with my super-weak memory I can still remember portions of his foreword to this day.

This is a story that can teach you about the power of simple humor, about that very un-common sense called common sense. About that most rare facet called attitude. About courage, about morals and a lot more* and all of this comes packed in about a hundred page book with kid size font. Truly worth its weight in gold!

I am not very sure about the book’s popularity in India, but the author was a very famous man in Italy and France and they even had movies/shows based on the book. I have found a few videos of the same on youtube but all of them in French/Italian….:(

Currently the English version of the book is out of print, but a listing is given in Shelfari and I have found copies of it in Amazon. I am aiming to buy the whole collection! They are pretty expensive, but what good is a job and adult hood if you can’t realize even your simple childhood dreams!**

*Not that I incorporated any in my life!
**Especially when it is your brother who does the ordering and paying...:D

46 comments:

മഞ്ഞുതുള്ളി said...

i wanna borrow it
[:)]

Abraham Menacherry said...

Tess: ha ha.. it is at my home, not here in blore.

Dschauffer said...

Thanks for mentioning Shelfari in your blog. I see that you currently have our "old" flash widget on your shelf. We just updated our widget and it's much improved including Amazon wish list compatibility and rich graphical options.
We'd love to hear your feedback! Try it out and tell us what you think.

Abraham Menacherry said...

dschauffer: I am pretty impressed with the effort you are taking to make shelfari better.

The site has a good look and feel and an absolutely astounding list of books! One suggestion from my side would be to start a "book-exchange" forum. People with the same book at the same place can then get together and switch copies.

Added the new widget, but unlike the old one, this does not allow to see the rest of my books on the shelf...:(

stillwaters said...

Intresting.. I wanna get my hands on a copy too..

Anonymous said...

In case you haven't already seen it, try the link below. Scroll down till you find Camillo :) Happy downloading! and thanx for suggesting a great read!

http://inillotempore.com/blog/pivot/archive.php?c=Literature

Abraham Menacherry said...

anon: Hey, thanks a lot!! I hadnt got that link, infact I didnt try too hard coz big bro is out buying....:) Unfortunately it is blocked here...:( will have to go to a cafe to read it i guess
P.S:I love it when anonymous people help me out... favours that need no return....:D.. just kidding!

Sonia said...

anon again. always happy to help ;)
hey, i thought i saw a familiar face on your travel blog. lemme check if it is indeed him.. we might have a mutual friend :)

Abraham Menacherry said...

sonia: hmm... that was cheating!! I was thinking u wouldnt reveal your identity...:)
been a long time since i updated ma travel blog...:( too lazy to write!

myashu said...

aby, u wud one day grow up to become the second Gaureschi...awesome dude...glad to b ur roomie..pls can i die now..??

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