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Fontamara  review

Author: Ignazio Silone
genre: Klassiker
ISBN: 0452009782

It is Silone's first novel and is among his most famous works. It received worldwide acclaim and sold more than a million and a half copies in twenty-seven languages. It was first published in German translation in Zurich, Switzerland in 1933, and was published in English by Penguin Books in September 1934. Fontamara is derived from the Italian 'Fonte Amara' (Bitter Stream.) Appearing on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, and published just a few months after Hitler came to power, when the world was beginning to take sides for or against fascism, the novel had a galvanising effect on public opinion. Fontamara 'became the very symbol of resistance' and ‘is widely agreed to have played a major role as a document of anti-Fascist propaganda outside Italy in the late 1930s,' as it criticises the deceitful and immoral nature of the Fascist party and its followers.

Fontamara is a fictional small rural village in Marsica in the Abruzzo region. The people (the Fontamaresi) are poor and the village is very remote to the extent that the citizens are unaware of world events such as the rise of Fascism. There is a tremendous gap between the ‘’cafoni’’ (peasants) who populate ‘’Fontamara’’ and those who live in the city. The Fontamaresi work the Earth to survive, turn to emigration as a means of economic improvement and are ignorant to events happening outside of their town. They are cut off from the rest of Italy and thus unaffected by modernity and new technology. The Impresario is a stark contrast to the Fontamaresi, who have laboured for centuries to little avail, as he quickly became the richest man in the region and embodies the power, authority and immorality of the Fascists. The Fontamaresi are exploited due to their naïvety and ignorance, the women are raped by the squadristi (a group of Fascists), Berardo Viola makes the ultimate sacrifice to allow the continued distribution of clandestine texts to spread the word about socialism and encourage rebellion against Fascism and at the end the majority of the population are killed at the hands of the Government.

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