Secondo Tranquilli Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207116-Silone.jpg Ignazio Silone. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Ignazio Silone (see-LOH-nay), who was born in the Appenine Mountains of the Abruzzi district, dropped his real name, Secondo Tranquilli, to save his family from Fascist persecution. Born the son of a small landowner, he became active in the labor movement as a young boy. In 1917, as secretary for the land workers of the Abruzzi district, he was charged with organizing an antiwar demonstration. In 1921 he joined and became secretary of the Italian Communist Party, and in 1922 he began to contribute, with Antonio Gramsci, to the paper L’Unita. He was also the editor of a daily newspaper in Trieste. Even after Benito Mussolini’s rise to power, Silone continued to print illegal newspapers and carry out other assignments. After his trip to Moscow in 1927 he became disillusioned with Communism and broke with the Communist Party in 1930. By 1932 one of his brothers had died in a Fascist prison, and Silone had been imprisoned and then expelled from various European countries.{$S[A]Tranquilli, Secondo;Silone, Ignazio}

Taking up residence in Switzerland in 1930, he set to work on his first novel, Fontamara, in which he describes the systematic destruction by the Black Shirts of a small Italian town that has attempted to resist the Fascists. A propagandistic novel that is nevertheless powerful and affecting, it ends with a plea for action against the scourge. Bread and Wine, perhaps Silone’s finest book, tells the story of Pietro...

(The entire section is 522 words.)


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Born Secondo Tranquilli in a village of the rugged Abruzzi region of central Italy, Ignazio Silone (a pseudonym he later used to protect his family from Fascist persecution) could never totally separate the image of its rugged topography from his view of human destiny. Again and again its mountains and valleys, as well as the harshness of life this terrain breeds, serve as the background for the struggles of his characters. The Abruzzi was a link between the medieval origins and the modern dilemmas of Italian culture, and the course of Silone’s own life runs parallel to the region’s emergence from a religious past into a secular and politicized present.

Partly because of poor health in his youth, Silone was educated close to home in religious schools, and although he abandoned rather early any thoughts of entering the priesthood, he seems never to have forgotten the lessons of faith that were no doubt inculcated during this period of his life. He later referred to his commitment to Socialist causes as a matter of “faith,” and the roots of this secular via fidei can be traced to the era of World War I, when Silone became the secretary of a syndicalist peasant movement, the Federation of Land Workers of the Abruzzi.

The year 1917 found Silone in Rome, where he was again associated with liberal causes through his selection as secretary of the Socialist Youth of Rome. His career as political journalist began with editorial duties on the Socialist weekly Avanguardia in 1918, and by 1921, he was respected enough to be chosen as a delegate to the conference in Moscow that organized the Italian Communist Party. During the 1920’s, Silone was a member of the central committee of the Italian Communist Party, but in 1930, he broke ties with the party, feeling that its dogmatism and its dependence on Moscow’s directives compromised the...

(The entire section is 767 words.)