Ignazio Silone

Ignazio Silone: Beyond the Tragic Vision

MARIA NICOLAI PAYNTER
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442675988
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  • Book Info
    Ignazio Silone
    Book Description:

    Paynter discusses the many controversial issues relating to Silone and his writing and argues that a profound simplicity is at the core of Silone?s writing.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7598-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)

    ʺIo ho posto nel cuore degli uomini / lʹospizio di speranze ciecheʺ [I have placed in the hearts of men / the hospice of blind hopes]. Ignazio Silone wrote these verses from AeschylusʹPrometheus Bound¹ as an epigraph to his novelIl seme sotto la neve(The Seed Beneath the Snow),² in his own handwriting, on a typescript of the work apparently not previously found by the critics, and yet they do not appear in the published version. Given his inclination to use the epigraph to encapsulate the essence of his thought in striking syntheses, it is surprising that having...

  7. 1 Ignazio Silone: A Biographical Profile
    (pp. 10-23)

    It would be hard to imagine a more appropriate manner in which to introduce Silone than by remembering the verses that David Maria Turoldo wrote in his honor – verses that capture the essence of his life and his work. The two writers had much in common: an imperious need to defend the oppressed and denounce social injustice, an innate ecumenical spirit, and a literary vocation to search, beyond literary trends, for truth and authenticity as the only masters of the poetic word. Both were men of action and prophetic vision; both were ostracized, ridiculed, and victimized; both were eventually...

  8. 2 Autobiographical Writings and Other Essays: Emergency Exit
    (pp. 24-47)

    The biographical profile I traced in the previous chapter offered a basic introduction to Siloneʹs life. This chapter will endeavor to broaden that perspective through a reading ofEmergency Exit.¹ In no other work does the writer engage in a direct dialogue with the reader as he does here; from no other work do readers gain as great an understanding of Siloneʹs human ʺadventure,ʺ his concerns, and his Promethean ʺblind hopes,ʺ as they do from this one. Each of the writings in this collection is like a beam of light that directs the readerʹs attention to apparently ordinary events and...

  9. 3 The Short Stories: ʺThe Journey to Parisʺ / ʺMr. Aristotleʺ
    (pp. 48-63)

    A discussion of Siloneʹs narratives would not be complete without a comment on the short stories contained in this volume – not because they are exemplary of the genre, but because they reveal new aspects of the creative process. Although Silone never admitted to having been mindful of literary canons, here he gives undeniable evidence that he consciously sets out to experiment with new narrative techniques. The fact that he did not follow the models of Poe and Maupassant or Turgenev and Chekhov – and that even as he let his German translator Nettie Sutro define him as a naturalistic...

  10. 4 The Satire: The School for Dictators
    (pp. 64-72)

    The epigraph ʺQuam parva sapientia regit mundum,ʺ¹ and Siloneʹs choice of the dialogue form, alert the reader from the onset that despite its title,The School for Dictatorsdoes not simply deal with politics or political science.² Perhaps influenced by Siloneʹs ample discussion of Machiavelli in the original introductory chapters of the book, many have focused on the political aspect of the work, suggesting analogies with MachiavelliʹsThe Prince.³ While both works are inspired by noble sentiments and offer remarkable insight into the science of politics, human nature, and contemporary society, one cannot ignore how profoundly different they also are....

  11. 5 The Novels of Exile
    (pp. 73-123)

    During his literary career Silone wrote essays, short stories, satire, and dramatic works, but he achieved worldwide recognition primarily as a novelist, and as such he will arguably be known to future generations. The common notion that world literature owes much to the experience of exile holds true in Siloneʹs case as well. One need only readEmergency Exit, and listen to the lyrical tone of some of its passages, to realize how deeply attached the author was to his native land and its poor farmers, and how he must have anguished during the fifteen years of his exile.¹ That...

  12. 6 The Post-Exile Novels
    (pp. 124-167)

    In my discussion of the novels of exile, I traced the evolution of a gradual process: from ignorance to initial awareness inFontamara; from an attempt to convert others to being converted inBread and Wine; from a rebirth into the Christian way of life to the imitation of Christ inThe Seed Beneath the Snow. The novels of the postwar period, while reflecting the same fundamental vision, also expand the perspective to incorporate a new awareness.

    Upon his return to his homeland in 1944, and for many subsequent years, Silone experienced a sort of second exile. In a cultural...

  13. 7 The Plays
    (pp. 168-182)

    In his penetrating study on modern theater, Nicola Chiaromonte writes that its novelty consists of its having brought back to the stage – for the first time since the Greeks, though in a different manner – the drama of the individual who confronts the problem of truth: ʺFrom Ibsen to Strindberg, to Shaw, to Chekhov, to Pirandello, theater does not deal any longer with one or another conflict, one or another human case, one or another passion, but rather with truth. Or, better yet, with the problem of truth.ʺ¹

    Silone, too, in his dramas and in his other works, confronts...

  14. 8 Siloneʹs Literary Fortune: 1933 to the Present
    (pp. 183-214)

    Silone wrote his first three novels in Switzerland, where he was a political refugee from 1930 to the the end of World War II. Emerging from the depth of the most severe crisis that he experienced in his life, he found an ʺemergency exitʺ in his literary vocation, and went on to become the first Italian writer to denounce the plight of the poor farmers, orcafoni. Unlike Verga, he felt that the cycle of oppression that historically held the poor in captivity could and should be broken. But his concern transcended Marxist influence and materialism; his focus was on...

  15. APPENDIX 1: Documents
    (pp. 215-230)
  16. APPENDIX 2: Der Christus Von Kazan
    (pp. 231-236)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 237-266)
  18. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 267-280)
  19. Index
    (pp. 281-287)