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The Reinvention of Ignazio Silone

The Reinvention of Ignazio Silone

  • Book Info
    The Reinvention of Ignazio Silone
    Book Description:

    In 1996, Ignazio Silone, one of the most beloved folk heroes of the Italian Left, a novelist and a high-ranking Communist Party member, was unmasked as a secret supporter of the Fascist movement. The discovery sparked a highly emotional response among scholars and the press in Italy and beyond, with reactions ranging from debate to disbelief.

    Elizabeth Leake's fascinating study provides a new analysis of Silone's fiction based on the discovery of his double life. Drawing on a psychoanalytic approach, the author re-reads Silone's novels in the light of his inevitable struggle with his own duplicity. Enriched by extensive and original archival research,The Reinvention of Ignazio Silonealso raises complex theoretical issues about authorship and audiences and about the relationship between text and context.

    Beautifully written and passionately argued, this work will appeal to a wide readership, including those interested in the history of the left and in literary criticism, as well as scholars of Italian history, literature and politics.

    Winner of the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies, presented by the Modern Language Association of America.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8218-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Il caso Silone
    (pp. 3-16)

    Until a few years ago, Ignazio Silone (born Secondino Tranquilli, 1900–78) was among the most beloved folk heroes of the Italian Left. As a representative of the Federazione giovanile socialista italiana, he was one of the founding members of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) at its inception in 1921, and over the course of eight years he held a series of high-profile positions, including a stint as a PCI delegate, along with Palmiro Togliatti, to Moscow in 1927 for a meeting of the executive committee of the International. In 1929, at the height of his power within the party...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Silone and the Fascists
    (pp. 17-50)

    In ʹArchive Fever: A Freudian Impression,ʹ Jacques Derrida writes that when a culture records its own misdeeds, ʹlʹUn se garde de lʹautre. The One guards against/keeps some of the other. It protectsitselffrom the other, but, in the movement of this jealous violence, it comprises in itself, thus guarding it, the self-otherness or self-difference (the difference from within oneself) which makes it One.ʹ³ A death drive results, Derrida asserts, that opposes the drive to conserve, and violence –le mal dʹarchive, archive fever – ensues from this double move:ʹLʹun se fait violence. The One makes itself violence.ʹ⁴ In...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Silone and the Symptom: ʹViaggio a Parigiʹ
    (pp. 51-88)

    As we saw earlier, in his final letter to FascistquestoreGuido Bellone, dated 13 April 1930, Silone announces that he plans to leave the Italian Communist Party and will in future devote himself to writing. Aware of his fame and influence among Italians abroad – workers and peasants, mainly – he indicates that he will write for them:

    Lʹinfluenza e la popolarità che in molti centri di emigrazione ho acquisiti mi inducono a concepire la mia attività futura (appena sarò ristabilito in salute) nella forma di unʹattività letteraria e editoriale del tutto indipendente. Devo aggiungere che in questo tempo,...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Torn Loyalties: Fontamara
    (pp. 89-116)

    Begun in 1929, continued in 1930 in Davos, Switzerland, completed in Zurich in 1931, and published in 1933,Fontamarawas Siloneʹs first novel. It was, and continues to be, one of his most widely read, along withPane e vino. Translated into dozens of languages, it was particularly popular in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States and until recently was a staple teaching tool in American high schools. Italian critics have commonly considered it to be not only Siloneʹs most important but also his most influential work. They attribute to it a straightforward and unequivocal vision shaped by...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Consummatum est: Pane e vino
    (pp. 117-142)

    If ʹViaggio a Parigiʹ andFontamararepresent Siloneʹs experimentation, roughly speaking, with the respective bodies of surrealist and socialist realist literatures, he moves withPane e vino(written in 1936 and published in 1937) into something closer to the realm of neorealism. This novel does not anticipate the neorealist movement by purporting to present an unfiltered, documentary-style view of actual reality. But in rather an analogous fashion, both its self-presentation and critical interpretationattributeto it a non-mediated or, more precisely, minimally mediated view into the life of its author.¹ Similarly, unlikeFontamara, which laid claim to a certain degree...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Past Imperfect: Critical (Self-)Revisions
    (pp. 143-158)

    At the end of the last chapter I suggested that there were different ways of reading Silone (reading for the sins of the author, reading for his redemption) that, in a circular fashion, both issue forth from and also inform possible relationships between the documents and the authorʹs fiction. As we saw, during earlier phases ofil caso Silone, there was more debate about how Siloneʹs works were read than there were actual readings (critical engagements, interpretations) of his works. That does not mean, however, thathow to readhis works has been widely discussed; on the contrary, in spite...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 159-186)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-196)
  12. Index
    (pp. 197-200)