The impoverished, desolate mountain regions of the Abruzzo during Mussolini’s reign provide the backdrop for the three greatest novels by Ignazio Silone, one of the twentieth century’s most important writers. In Fontamara, Bread and Wine, and The Seed Beneath the Snow – presented together for the first time in English to mark the centenary of the author’s birth – Silone narrates the struggles of the cafoni, the farmers and peasants of his native Abruzzo, against poverty, natural disasters, and totalitarianism. The first novel in the series, Fontamara, is a political fable that portrays the bitter trials of the villagers of Pescina as they battle with landowners who have appropriated their only source of water. First published from his exile in Zurich in 1933, and banned in his own country, the novel was translated into twenty languages and won Silone instant international literary fame. Silone’s masterpiece, Bread and Wine, introduces the semi-autobiographical character Pietro Spina, an anti-Fascist revolutionary who returns to his homeland after fifteen years in exile. He seeks refuge among the Abruzzo peasants by posing as the priest Don Paolo Spada. Pietro’s story continues in The Seed Beneath the Snow, Silone’s personal favorite in the trilogy. Pietro Spina flees again and, with the police in close pursuit, is taken in by his grandmother Donna Maria Vincenza. Though comfortably settled in Italian bourgeois society, she jeopardizes her own life in order to protect him.
“More than 30 years after his death, it is high time that English-language readers rediscovered this valiant writer and his works.” — The Wall Street Journal