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Author(s) Leon Trotsky
Written 20 July 1933

Published in The Militant, Vol. VI No. 40, 26 August 1933, p. 4.
Published in New International, Vol.1 No.5, December 1934, p.159.
Collection(s): New International
Keywords : Book review, Fascism, Italy

Version published in The Militant[edit source]

S.S. Bulgaria July 20, 1933


A Novel by I. Silone

Zurich 1933

A remarkable book! From the first line to the last it is directed against the Fascist regime in Italy, against its lies, its violence, and book of passionate political propaganda. But revolutionary passion is raised here to such heights that it creates a truly artistic work. Fontamara is only a poor, god forsaken village in the South of Italy. In the space of the book’s two hundred pages, this name becomes a symbol of the whole Italian countryside, its poverty, its despair, but also of its indignation.

Silone knows the Italian peasantry remarkably well: the first 20 years of the author’s life, according to his own words, were spent in “Fontamara”. Embellishment and sentimentality are foreign to him. He knows how to see life as it is, how to generalize what he sees by means of the Marxist method and then to embody his generalizations into artistic images. The story is told by the peasants, cafoni, paupers themselves. Despite the exceptional difficulty of this style, the author executes it like a real master. Some chapters have a stupendous force!

Has this book appeared in the Soviet Union? Has it drawn the attention of the publishing houses of the Comintern? The book deserves a circulation of millions of copies. But no matter what the attitude of the official bureaucracy may be towards works of truly revolutionary literature, Fontamara – we are convinced – will make its way into the official bureaucracy [some text missing here]. To assist in the circulation of this book is the duty of every revolutionist.

L. Trotsky

Version published in New International[edit source]


by Ignazio Silone

xix+299 pp. New York. Harrison Smith and Robert Haas. $2.50.

This is a remarkable book. From its first to its concluding sentence it is aimed against the Fascist regime, its lies, brutalities, and abominations. Fontamara is a book of impassioned political propaganda. But in it revolutionary passion attains such heights as to result in a genuinely artistic creation. Fontamara itself is merely a poverty-stricken village in one of the most forsaken corners of Southern Italy. In the course of some 200 pages of the book this name becomes the symbol of agricultural Italy, of all its villages and their poverty and their despair and their rebellion.

Silone possesses an intimate knowledge of the Italian peasants. As the author himself tells us, he spent the initial twenty years of his life in Fontamara. Gaudiness of style and sugary sentimentality are foreign to him. He is able to see life as it is; he is gifted with the capacity first to generalize what he perceives by means of the Marxian method and then to embody his generalizations in artistic images. He tells his tale through the persons of the peasants, the cafoni and the village paupers themselves. Despite the extraordinary difficulty of such a presentation, the author handles it like a true master. This book has chapters of stupendous power.

Has this book been published in the Soviet Union ? Has it come to the notice of the publishing houses of the Third International? This book deserves a circulation of many million copies. But whatever may be the attitude of the official bureaucracy towards those works which belong to the genuine revolutionary literature, Fontamara – we are certain – will find its way to the masses. It is the duty of every revolutionist to assist in circulating this book.