Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Abruzzi (ah-BREWT-see). South-central region of Italy near the eastern coast of the country, along the Adriatic Sea. An area of plains, hills, and mountains, it is the setting for all the volumes in Silone’s Abruzzi Trilogy. It is a poor area of marginal farming and small villages and embraces a traditional way of life. Since Silone’s intention was to write about Italy’s poor during the period before World War II, the Abruzzi proved an appropriate place in which to set his stories of cafoni, or peasant life, since largely it had remained socially, economically, religiously, and politically traditional, a land of estates on which the people eked out a meager living from the unforgiving soil. Most of the peasant tenants lived in one-room hovels with their livestock, who provided a source of warmth during the winters. The Abruzzi was also rather isolated, and since one of the main themes of Fontamara is about the disruption of the local traditions caused by a remote Fascist government in Rome, it proved a congenial setting for Silone’s social realism.


Fontamara. Typical Abruzzi village, containing some fifty dilapidated dwellings grouped around a central piazza with a church, nestled in the hills between the mountains and the Fucino plain. Its people are traditional peasants: poor, superstitious, and isolated. As in the other Abruzzi novels, the locals are depicted as...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

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. A study of Silone’s novels as a quest for a “shapeless God” seen in such forces as socialism, revolution, and brotherly love. Discusses the salient events in the author’s life which influenced Silone’s writing.

Caserta, Ernesto G. “The Meaning of Christianity in the Novels of Silone.” Italian Quarterly 16, nos. 62-63 (1972): 19-39. The character of Berardo Viola is studied as an expression of Silone’s ethical and religious search for a solution to the social problems of southern Italian peasants.

Hanne, Michael. “Silone’s Fontamara: Polyvalence and Power.” MLN 107 (January, 1992): 132-159. A well-documented study of Fontamara based on Hanne’s premise that the novel is not a historically accurate account of Fascist oppression and peasant resistance in southern Italy, but, rather, a text of universal significance.

Lewis, R. W. B. “Ignazio Silone: The Politics of Charity.” In The Picaresque Saint. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1959. A detailed account of the author’s life precedes this study of Fontamara, which is viewed as the first stage in Silone’s “conversion from politics to love.” Includes a discussion of the language, the humor, and the narrative devices used in the novel.

Scott, Nathan A. “Ignazio Silone: Novelist of the Revolutionary Sensibility.” In Rehearsals of Decomposure. New York: King’s Crown Press, 1952. Sees Fontamara as the initial statement of major themes developed in Silone’s later novels; these themes include the corruption in the government and the dichotomy between the middle class and the proletariat.