Seven Floors (Buzzati)

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Seven Floors
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man with a mild illness entered a renowned sanatorium, where patients were assigned to floors based on illness severity. Despite his insistence, he was transferred to progressively lower floors, ultimately ending up in the ward for the dying.

Giuseppe Corte, a slightly feverish man, arrived at a renowned sanatorium one morning in March. He was advised to seek treatment at this facility due to its expertise in treating his specific illness. The building was a seven-story white structure, surrounded by tall trees. After a brief medical examination, Giuseppe was assigned to a cheerful room on the seventh floor, the top floor of the building.

Giuseppe Corte — patient at the sanatorium; initially assigned to the seventh floor; slightly feverish, determined, and anxious about his condition and transfers.

He soon learned that the hospital had a unique system of assigning patients to different floors based on the severity of their illness. The seventh floor was for the mildest cases, while the first floor was for those who were beyond hope. Each floor had its own distinct atmosphere, rules, and traditions, as well as a different doctor in charge.

Giuseppe's condition seemed to remain stable, and he was content with his placement on the seventh floor. However, one day, the head nurse asked him to move to the sixth floor to accommodate a woman with two children. Giuseppe reluctantly agreed, believing it to be a temporary arrangement. Once on the sixth floor, he discovered that the atmosphere was different, and the patients were more seriously ill.

Despite his insistence on returning to the seventh floor, Giuseppe found himself transferred to the fifth floor due to a persistent skin infection. The doctor on this floor advised him that the treatment would be more effective on the lower levels, and Giuseppe reluctantly agreed to the move.

His condition worsened on the fourth floor, and he became increasingly anxious about his situation. The doctor on this floor suggested that Giuseppe might benefit from moving to the third floor, where the treatment was more aggressive and the staff more experienced. Giuseppe, desperate for any improvement, agreed to the transfer.

On the third floor, Giuseppe learned that the staff would be going on vacation, and the patients would be temporarily moved to the second floor. Terrified of descending further, he protested but ultimately had no choice but to comply. Once on the second floor, he felt completely isolated from the world of healthy people and became obsessed with the idea of returning to the upper floors.


As the days passed, Giuseppe's condition continued to deteriorate, and he was eventually transferred to the first floor, the ward for the dying. He was devastated by this turn of events and struggled to accept his fate.

"Six floors, six terrible barriers—even though it was technical error—now hung over Giuseppe Corte with implacable weight."

In the end, as the shades of his room slowly lowered, blocking out the light, Giuseppe was left to face the reality of his situation, trapped on the first floor with no hope of returning to the world he once knew.