Leon Trotsky


(December 1934)

Source: New International, Vol.1 No.5, December 1934, p.159.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2006. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

by Ignazio Silone
xix+299 pp. New York. Harrison Smith and Robert Haas. $2.50.

This is a remarkable book. From its first to its concluding sentence it is aimed against the Fascist regime, its lies, brutalities, and abominations. Fontamara is a book of impassioned political propaganda. But in it revolutionary passion attains such heights as to result in a genuinely artistic creation. Fontamara itself is merely a poverty-stricken village in one of the most forsaken corners of Southern Italy. In the course of some 200 pages of the book this name becomes the symbol of agricultural Italy, of all its villages and their poverty and their despair and their rebellion.

Silone possesses an intimate knowledge of the Italian peasants. As the author himself tells us, he spent the initial twenty years of his life in Fontamara. Gaudiness of style and sugary sentimentality are foreign to him. He is able to see life as it is; he is gifted with the capacity first to generalize what he perceives by means of the Marxian method and then to embody his generalizations in artistic images. He tells his tale through the persons of the peasants, the cafoni and the village paupers themselves. Despite the extraordinary difficulty of such a presentation, the author handles it like a true master. This book has chapters of stupendous power.

Has this book been published in the Soviet Union ? Has it come to the notice of the publishing houses of the Third International? This book deserves a circulation of many million copies. But whatever may be the attitude of the official bureaucracy towards those works which belong to the genuine revolutionary literature, Fontamara – we are certain – will find its way to the masses. It is the duty of every revolutionist to assist in circulating this book.


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