Why is it that Ignazio Silone used a pseudonym and did not use his real name in Fontamara?
The Italian writer Ignazio Silone was born Secondo Tranquilli, but he dropped his real name because he wanted to protect his family during the years of the Fascist dictatorship. During the twenty years of Mussolini's regime (1925-1945), Silone was an outspoken critic of Fascism and a militant, albeit an unorthodox one, in Italian left-wing parties that had been banned. Politics and anti-Fascism dominated Silone's youth. He was the secretary of the Socialist Youth at only 17 years of age and was one of the first to join the Italian Communist Party founded by Gramsci and Bordiga. In the late 1920s, however, he became increasingly critical of the party's political line which he considered too close to Stalinist directives and joined the Socialist Party. He lived in exile in Switzerland from 1930 to 1944.
Some historians, especially Mario Canali and Dario Biocca, have pointed out that, while a card-carrying member of the Communist Party, Silone had several secret contacts with the Fascist police. These contacts made Silone appear like a traitor of the anti-Fascist cause for several years. Yet, these accusations have been strongly rejected by other historians who have produced evidence that Silone did not collaborate with Fascism. His contacts with the regime were designed to save his brother Romolo, who was detained in a Fascist prison where he died in 1932.