Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Abruzzi (ah-BREWT-see). Region of south-central Italy on the eastern side of the country, opposite Rome and near the Adriatic Sea. An area of plains, hills, and mountains, it is the setting for all the volumes in Silone’s Abruzzi Trilogy. Silone chose this region because he was born in southern Abruzzi in Pescina and because he needed a poor region in which to set his novels of peasant, or cafoni, life. Abruzzi is an area of vast feudal estates where a large number of cafoni eke out a subsistence farming a harsh, unforgiving terrain. Most of the peasants live in squalid one-room houses with their livestock, who provide a needed source of heat in the winter. It is also an area isolated from the outside world and therefore still primitive socially, politically, and religiously. Since Bread and Wine is about exploitation in a rural region, the Abruzzi provides an exemplary locale for the novel.


*Pietrasecca (pee-eh-trah-SEHT-chah). Remote Italian village nestled in the hills of Abruzzi. Pietro Spina, a communist agitator, retreats there disguised as a priest seeking the mountain air for his lungs. Silone’s depiction of the poverty, superstition, and isolation experienced by the local cafoni carries the social message of the novel. The locals are depicted in many ways as grotesques, even though Silone clearly feels compassion for their plight. Here, Pietro...

(The entire section is 528 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Sources for Further Study

Brown, Robert McAfee. “Ignazio Silone and the Pseudonyms of God.” In The Shapeless God: Essays on Modern Fiction, edited by Harry J. Mooney, Jr., and Thomas F. Staley. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1968. Notes the underlying Christian symbolism in this novel of failed revolution. Suggests that God is not dead but hidden, revealed not through religion but through sacrifice for others.

Howe, Irving. “Silone: A Luminous Example.” In Decline of the New. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1970. Traces Pietro Spina’s spiritual anguish and his ultimate rejection of Marxism in favor of the primitive Christianity of the Abruzzi peasants. Explores the possibility of modern heroism through contemplation rather than action.

Leake, Elizabeth. The Reinvention of Ignazio Silone. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. A study of Silone’s major works of fiction in the light of his complex, conflicted political philosophy and activity.

Lewis, R. W. B. “Ignazio Silone: The Politics of Charity.” In The Picaresque Saint: Representative Figures in Contemporary Fiction. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1959. Identifies Spina, with his alter ego Paolo Spada, as a picaresque saint, part hero and part rogue. Analyzes his encounters with other symbolic figures.

Paynter, Maria Nicolai. “Ignazio Silone.” In Italian Prose Writers, 1900-1945. Vol. 264 in Dictionary of Literary Biography, edited by Luca Somigli and Rocco Capozzi. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. An overview of Silone’s life, times, and published works.

Paynter, Maria Nicolai. Ignazio Silone: Beyond the Tragic Vision. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000. A comprehensive study of Silone’s life and work, informed by critic Northrop Frye’s theories of myth, archetype, and symbol.

Scott, Nathan A., Jr. “Ignazio Silone: Novelist of the Revolutionary Sensibility.” In Rehearsals of Discomposure: Alienation and Reconciliation in Modern Literature. New York: King’s Crown Press, 1952. Characterizes Bread and Wine as a revolutionary novel, citing its disenchantment with all political parties. Examines the inevitable isolation of a revolutionary such as Spina.

Silone, Ignazio. Bread and Wine. Translated by Harvey Fergusson II, with an afterword by Marc Slonim. New York: Atheneum, 1962. Comments on significant changes in Silone’s 1955 revision. Views the novel as a kind of ethical Bildungsroman.