"Fontamara", Ignazio Silone
The novel is set in an imaginary village in central-southern Italy, Fontamara, the literal translation of which would be 'bitter (water) spring'. Indeed, this is a very bitter depiction of the hardships that the peasants ('cafoni') have to suffer, both for the historical, ever-unresolved 'southern question' and for the rise of fascism in the same years. As a fact, the novel had to be published abroad whilst the author was on exile in Switzerland. And there are some significant parallels with C.Levi's "Christ stopped at Eboli" (a wonderful one, btw). In terms of style, it is quite easily written, but these recurring patterns of Italian legacy are heavy to carry. Whoever has a tiny bit of power is ruthlessly, dishonestly exploiting and manipulating the poor illiterate workers, taking away their goods and energy. The State only shows up at its own advantage. This is still deep-rooted in the 'Italian mindset', and, as the reader witnesses, with a reason why. Any attempt of revolt against the strongest miserably degenerates in a poor-versus-poor war for survival.
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