Although the literary canon of Ignazio Silone may be divided into several fairly distinct phases or periods, a number of themes and motifs serve to unite his works into a single vision of life. One of the most obvious of these is the use of Abruzzi villages as the setting for his fiction. A second common element is a fascination with the idea of the hero as a solitary figure who must strive to restore communion with his fellow human beings. Yet another may be found in the persistent motif of the hero’s return to his native region, an experience that triggers a flood of ambivalent emotion in more than one Silone character. Finally, the symbolic role of women and the emphasis accorded to acts of self-sacrifice and renunciation also help to unify Silone’s works. Taken together, these elements create a peculiarly Silonean frame of reference in which the vicissitudes of history and circumstance test the capacity of the human spirit to endure and prevail.
Fontamara, Silone’s first novel, portrays the injustices suffered by a mountain village at the hands of the Fascist state. In one sense, the entire village is the hero of this work, with its collective sorrows and bewilderment serving as the focal point of the action. While the emphasis rests on this common tragedy, the novel also reveals its author’s interest in the reactions of individuals caught up in the aggregate patterns of human fate. Thus, the fortunes of...
(The entire section is 2905 words.)
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