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Fontamara - by Ignazio Silone

Fontamara

Fontamara, the most famous novel by Ignazio Silone (pen-name of Secondo Tranquilli, Pescina, 1 May 1900 - Geneva, 22 August 1978), translated into many languages, has gained wide recognition around the world.

The novel describes a peasants' universe, desperate and unchanging over time: Fontamara is a village, backward economically and technologically, where nothing has changed or will ever change, each year marked by the agricultural rhythm of sowing, threshing, harvest. In this universe natural disasters and injustices are passively accepted, and that's why in the foreword to claim the right to water is defined as "a strange thing". For the simple, religious minds of many peasants, the idea of changing the course of a river is considered a sin against God, because it means to change nature as He created it.

Simple in plot and language, the novel sometimes takes the tone of a fairy tale, other times of an epic story, still other times of political denunciation. Written while the author was exiled in Swotzerland, it is also a denunciation of fascism. Through the rebellion of Berardo the author shows us a violent age of harsh repression against adversaries, censorship, disobedience and rebellion. Below, find the beginning of Silone's foreword to his novel.

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Gli strani fatti che sto per raccontare si svolsero nell'estate del 1930 a Fontamara.
The strange facts I am about to tell took place in 1930 Fontamara.
Ho dato questo nome a un antico e oscuro luogo di contadini poveri situato nella Marsica, a settentrione del prosciugato lago del Fucino, nell'interno di una valle, a mezza costa tra le colline e la montagna.
I gave this name to an ancient unknown place of poor peasants located in Marsica, to the north of the drained lake Fucino inside a valley, halfway between the hills and the mountains.
A chi sale verso Fontamara dal Piano del Fucino il villaggio appare disposto sul fianco della montagna grigia, brulla, e arida come su una gradinata.
For those who go up to Fontamara from the Fucino Plain the village appears arranged on the side of the gray, barren, arid mountain as on a stairway.
Dal piano sono ben visibili le porte e le finestre della maggior parte delle case: un centinaio di casucce quasi tutte a un piano, irregolari, informi, annerite dal tempo.
From the plain the doors and windows of most houses are clearly visible: a hundred little houses almost all one-story, irregular, shapeless, blackened by time.
Nell'interno, per lo più senza pavimento, con i muri a secco, coabitano, dormono, mangiano, talvolta nello stesso vano, gli uomini, le donne, i loro figli, le capre, le galline, i porci, gli asini.
In the interior, mostly without paving, with stone walls, cohabit, sleep, eat, sometimes in the same room, men, women, their children, goats, chickens, pigs, donkeys.
Ma Fontamara ha pure aspetti particolari. Allo stesso modo, i contadini poveri, gli uomini che fanno fruttificare la terra e soffrono la fame, i fellahin arabi, i coolies cinesi, i peones sudamericani, i mugic russi, i "cafoni", si somigliano in tutti i paesi del mondo;
But Fontamara also has special aspects. Similarly, the poor peasants, the men who make the earth fruitful and suffer hunger, the Arab fellahins, the Chinese coolies, the peons South Americans, the Russians mujics, the "cafoni", are similar in all countries of the world;
Sono, sulla faccia della terra si direbbe, nazione a sé, razza a sé, chiesa a sé; eppure non si sono ancora visti due poveri in tutto identici.
they are, on the face of the earth it seems, a nation in its own right, a race apart, a church apart ; yet, not even two completely identical poor men have ever been seen.
A chi guarda Fontamara da lontano, dal Feudo del Fucino, l'abitato sembra un gregge di pecore scure e il campanile un pastore. "
To a beholder of Fontamara from afar, from the Fucino Fief, the village looks like a flock of dark sheep and the bell tower a shepherd."
Lo stesso Silone ci ha letto ciò che scriveva, in modo suggestivo e piuttosto pessimistico, nell'introduzione a "Fontamara", romanzo pubblicato in Svizzera durante il suo lungo esilio dall'Italia.
Silone himself read for us what he wrote, in a charming and rather pessimistic way, in the introduction to "Fontamara", a novel published in Switzerland during his long exile from Italy.
- Come è nato "Fontamara", quando l'ha scritto?
- "Fontamara" è stato il mio primo romanzo, e lo scrissi all'inizio del mio esilio in Svizzera.
- How was " Fontamara" born, when did you write it?
- "Fontamara" was my first novel, and I wrote it at the beginning of my exile in Switzerland.
Come forse non tutti ricordano, c'erano anche altri scrittori italiani in esilio, Giuseppe Antonio Borghese, Leo Ferrero, Lauro de Bosis, ed è anche il caso di ricordare che l'esilio è una voce costante della storia della letteratura italiana di tutte le epoche.
As not everybody may remember, there were other Italian writers in exile, Giuseppe Antonio Borghese, Leo Ferrero, Lauro de Bosis, and it is also necessary to recall that exile is a constant voice in the history of Italian literature of all ages.
Scrivere "Fontamara" per me era un bisogno impellente, era un modo di reagire alla solitudine e alla tristezza.
Writing "Fontamara" for me was a pressing need, it was a way of reacting to loneliness and sadness.