His real name was not Ignazio Silone – he was born Secondino Tranquilli. Pescina was not Fontamara and Silone was not a poor peasant. Ignazio Silone,. FONTAMARA. Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A., Milano. INDICE. Cenni biografici su Ignazio Silone. Cenni critici. La fortuna di. Fontamara is one of the Italian classics of the twentieth century. It was written Its author, Ignazio Silone, was a controversial figure throughout his life. He was a .
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From International Socialism 2: Copied with thanks from the International Socialism Archive. Of all the great political novels Fontamara is without doubt one of the most influential.
Ingazio it was first published 60 years ago it was not the first book about fascism. But it was the first book which showed what fascism was really like, told in the language of the wretched of the earth, the cafoni of Italy. Within a year it had appeared in nine languages. But it was not simply an anti-fascist book: Such powerful drama does not spring from the imagination.
Fontamara is a book forged out of struggle; it is also the personal testament of a revolutionary in exile, prepared to sacrifice everything, believing himself near death.
Ignazio Silone and Fontamara
Ignazio Silone was born on 1st May in Pescina, a small town in the mountainous region of the Abruzzi. His real name was not Ignazio Silone — he was born Secondino Tranquilli. Pescina was not Fontamara and Silone was not a poor peasant. His father owned a small amount of land; his mother was a weaver.
In an earthquake shattered central Italy. An orphan at the age of 15 he was forced to grow up extremely fast. Inas political agitation against the government and the war grew rapidly, Silone became regional secretary for the rural workers of the Abruzzi.
He fontamqra arrested on a demonstration against the war. Three articles he wrote for the Socialist Party paper Avanti! Over the next three years, as ifnazio revolutionary wave swept across Europe, Silone identified firmly with the militant left of the socialist movement, centred on the factory councils of Turin.
Silone immediately took on important roles in the new party. He was appointed editor of the paper for the city of Trieste and then, as the fascist threat grew and Mussolini came to power, went underground. In he was brought into the publications department of the PCI to work with Gramsci and became responsible for party propaganda and agitation. It was just at this point that fascist repression grew most savage. Using the pretext of a plot to assassinate Mussolini, all opposition parties and papers were banned.
Gramsci was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The PCI was driven completely underground and into exile. The external leadership was assigned to Palmiro Togliatti. Silone became responsible for the internal Centre. These were the circumstances in which Silone and Togliatti were summoned to Moscow for a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
He had already been in Moscow on several occasions, becoming increasingly concerned about the ugly degeneration of the revolution. But on this occasion matters took a wholly new turn. The pretext was a document by Trotsky attacking the disastrous policies of the Comintern in China, where collaboration with the nationalists had led directly to the massacre of tens of thousands of workers in Shanghai and Wuhan.
It was difficult to do so, Silone apologised, since neither he nor Togliatti had read it. Neither have we, came the response.
In an atmosphere of intimidation the policy discussions began. One incident summed up the situation: Zinoviev was prevented from entering the meeting by the Russian police guards. He had been excluded by a purely arbitrary decision. Or in the Fascist Grand Council? But rapidly he realised this was a false hope.
It took less than three years for any hope of resistance within the PCI to the Stalin regime to wither. By that time Silone was in exile in Switzerland and suffering severely from what was thought to be TB. He had in effect taken the decision to withdraw from Party activity, but passivity was not enough for the leadership. To show his loyalty he would have to denounce his former comrades who had been expelled, notably Pietro Tresso, one of the best underground leaders, and those who had allied themselves with Trotsky.
The denunciation was typed out and signed for him by Togliatti. Even that was not enough. It was the summer of12 months since he had completed the manuscript of Fontamara in the sanatorium at Davos. Years later, when he came to revise the book — Silone revised nearly everything he wrote — he described his state of mind:. But the anxiety and stress was not simply the result of illness and isolation.
Fontamara was his first book and it was also a testament, dedicated to the two people who were closest to him. Her loyalty to him was unswerving, but so was her loyalty to the Party.
When he left, their relationship could not survive. The other was Romulo Tranquilli, his younger brother and the only surviving member of his family. Romulo had been in prison sinceaccused of being a member of the PCI.
He was so brutally beaten and tortured at the time of his arrest that he received permanent internal injuries, injuries which led to his death in prison in Why did he confess he was a Communist? Why did he affirm his confession before the judge of a special tribunal which used his confession to condemn him to 12 years in prison? He wrote to me: So it was that the self sacrifice of Berardo, the hero of Fontamarawas born.
The manuscript of Fontamara circulated in the exile community in Switzerland without exciting much attention.
Others were to echo that view. When the manuscript was offered to publishers in Britain it was rejected several times, by Gollancz among others. In the United States the book was rejected 12 times before it found a publisher.
Ignazio Silone and Fontamara
But Silone himself had no doubts. I have never been so certain in myself But Fontamara was not to appear in Italian first. It was in silpne German speaking community that the book struck home. The costs were underwritten by subscribers, and the book was serialised simultaneously in several German newspapers.
It took three years for Fontamara to appear in print: The shift from complete isolation to sudden fame could have ruined Silone. By he was living in luxury, enjoying the hospitality of a Swiss banker who had befriended him.
Fontamara – Wikipedia
But although he appreciated the comforts, he was indifferent to them. He remained a self effacing, rather taciturn figure. And despite his success with Fontamaraand his second novel, Bread and Winepublished inhe was not popular with the authorities. He was refused residence in France, fontmaara the British government showed its customary generosity towards political refugees and refused ignazzio even the right to visit the country.
He was offered the chance of exile in the United States on the personal initiative of Eleanor Roosevelt; he turned it down. Thus it was that the outbreak of the Second World War found him still in Switzerland. He had rejected all party political activity sincebut under pressure from friends he agreed to take responsibility for the Foreign Centre of the Socialist Party. It was a thankless task and one for which he was not well suited. Despite the pressures and the hardships, Silone renewed his commitment to activity.
The political platform he drafted in and published in shortly before his return from exile shows how his politics had shifted since his years in the Communist Party. The formulations he adopted could be interpreted in a variety of ways, and it was just this tendency to xilone and straddle quite different political positions which led to trouble after the war.
Silone returned to an Italy where the Communist Party now had enormous prestige as the main organised force which had opposed fascism, not only politically but militarily. In the industrial north the rank and file of the PCI had organised the first mass strikes against fascism.
fontamaa The partisans had huge popular support. Compared to this the PSI had very little, and those forces it did have were in favour of collaboration — at least — with the Communists.
In the PSI split between left and right: Silone attempted to assert an independent position between the two factions. His grouping had some apparent support: But in reality it was a mirage. Those who attempt to stand in the middle of a busy road usually get knocked down.
The PSU collapsed almost as soon as it was born. Silone withdrew from organised politics for the second time in his life, this time for good.
He played the leading role in setting up the Italian branch of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an organisation which unknown to him proved to be largely funded by the CIA. None of the books he wrote in the post-war ignazzio remotely approached the quality of Fontamara or Bread and Wine. The spiritual aspect of his personal faith grew stronger. Some of his articles degenerated into superficial moralising.
He consistently opposed the idea of any role for the Communist Party in a governing alliance; although he did not intend it, by doing so he in effect aligned himself with the hard right, above all in the early s.
As he said in a note to the revised version of Fontamara: