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The Story of Tonle
     

The Story of Tonle

by Mario Rigoni Stern, John Shepley (Translator)
 

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Mario Rigoni Stern was born in 1921 in Asiago, in the mountains of northeastern Italy. Throughout his literary career, he has remained deeply attached to the region of his birth, its peasant customs, its dialect, its seasonal cycles and shifting historical fortunes.

Tonle Bintarn's story takes place in the mountains of the Veneto region, which once bordered the

Overview

Mario Rigoni Stern was born in 1921 in Asiago, in the mountains of northeastern Italy. Throughout his literary career, he has remained deeply attached to the region of his birth, its peasant customs, its dialect, its seasonal cycles and shifting historical fortunes.

Tonle Bintarn's story takes place in the mountains of the Veneto region, which once bordered the Austro-Hungarian Empire and where smuggling was a means of subsistence for the peasant population. Having run afoul of a patrol of revenue agents, Tonle must seek refuge beyond the frontier in Central Europe, where year after year he lives by doing odd jobs and working, among other things, as an itinerant print peddler, a horse trainer in Hungary, and a gardener in a Prague castle. But every winter he returns secretly to his home and family, until finally a pardon is granted. By now his children are grown and he has little to do but tend his sheep. Meanwhile, the times are changing, social values are disintegrating under the impact of modernization, and Europe moves ever closer to disaster. During the devastation of the First World War, the occupation and ultimate destruction of his village, and his own internment in an Austrian camp, it is Tonle's loyalty to his roots and his stubborn devotion to his task as a shepherd that persist and make him a quiet symbol of heroism and human endurance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Neither Italian nor Austrian, the natives of the mountainous region of what is now northeastern Italy guard their own culture and patois and a history of ferocious autonomy. In this nostalgic memoir, Stern, who hails from this part of the world and writes in Italian, recounts the tale of a legendary peasant, Tonle Bintarn, whose life began in the late 19th century and ended just after WWI ravaged the region. Tonle first works as a smuggler between Italian- and Austrian-controlled areas. Apprehended and forced to flee, he becomes an itinerant peddler of iconographic prints, among other things, always returning furtively to his beloved homeland and family for the winter months. Stern recounts Tonle's story as if the hero had been a grandfather or neighbor; through descriptions of Tonle's shepherd lore, humble hearth and peasant wisdom, Stern tries to capture the vanishing customs of his native people. With the advent of WWI, which brings to the mountains such devastation as the battle of Mount Ortigara, "everything was topsy-turvy," and the country Tonle once knew is blown apart forever. FYI: Marlboro will publish Stern's WWII memoir, "The Sergeant in the Snow", simultaneously with "The Story of Tonle".

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810160934
Publisher:
Northwestern University Press
Publication date:
07/31/2012
Edition description:
1
Pages:
105
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.40(d)

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