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Fontamara (Everyman) Paperback – 1 Sep 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New edition edition (1 Sept. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0460874942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0460874946
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 501,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Gambini on 25 Oct. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fontamara is a book that anyone who was about to live in Italy should read: it explains the modes of centuries of exploitment of the populace and the very roots of the persistent endemic mistrust of Italians towards all institutions. Through the collective and individual outlook and voice of its deprived, ignorant protagonists (in the tradition of Italian verism) it implicitly explains why the state - and all its controlling mechanisms - are considered a hostile entity that will rip you off if you do not avoid it or rip it off first.
This may help to explain why, in modern-day Italy, embarrassing characters that encounter unanimous disapproval abroad for openly manipulating the state for personal purposes, make their way to the highest levels of political power and become heros in the eyes of their supporters- thus polarizing the public opinion as fiercely as only Mussolini had done.
It also explains the social, economic and cultural substrate that allowed Italian fascism (the matrix of all 20th century fascisms) to flourish, and ardent anti-fascism to develop.
Bread and wine is a more explicit declaration of the author's peculiar, very independent-minded, communist views.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 May 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fontamara is the symbol of an Italian village of cafoni (day laborers).

The cafoni of Fontamara have been duped by clever entrepreneurs supported by the banks; in other words, by capitalists who apply the U.S. model, from there the slogan: "It's America here now."
They signed, without really understanding it, an agreement with the entrepreneurs which stipulated that the bed of the river that runs through their village could be moved. But this really meant that their poor arable land couldn't be irrigated anymore.
They try by all means to get the agreement cancelled, also with petitions and appeals to politicians. But, they fall into the hands of the black jackets (the fascists), who discover that their names are recorded on blacklists of anarchists, communists or socialists. The leaders of the 'conspiracy against the State' are put in prison.

This tragic story is told in a dramatic-humoristic tone.
The cafoni have to pass a political exam by answering the question: 'Long live who?' Of course, nobody can answer that question. They are all branded as enemies of the fascist State.
When the postman brings them an official letter, they really think that it is a document to impose new taxes on them.

The central theme of this brilliantly written novel is a major political problem: democracy.
With his blend of humor, sarcasm and cynicism, the author demonstrates remarkably how an anti-democratic regime can exclude entire segments of a population from the political process and strangulate them economically.

Fontamara is an unforgettable masterpiece.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Long live who? 18 May 2010
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fontamara is the symbol of an Italian village of cafoni (day laborers).

The cafoni of Fontamara have been duped by clever entrepreneurs supported by the banks; in other words, by capitalists who apply the U.S. model, from there the slogan: "It's America here now."
They signed, without really understanding it, an agreement with the entrepreneurs which stipulated that the bed of the river that runs through their village could be moved. But this really meant that their poor arable land couldn't be irrigated anymore.
They try by all means to get the agreement cancelled, also with petitions and appeals to politicians. But, they fall into the hands of the black jackets (the fascists), who discover that their names are recorded on blacklists of anarchists, communists or socialists. The leaders of the 'conspiracy against the State' are put in prison.

This tragic story is told in a dramatic-humoristic tone.
The cafoni have to pass a political exam by answering the question: 'Long live who?' Of course, nobody can answer that question. They are all branded as enemies of the fascist State.
When the postman brings them an official letter, they really think that it is a document to impose new taxes on them.

The central theme of this brilliantly written novel is a major political problem: democracy.
With his blend of humor, sarcasm and cynicism, the author demonstrates remarkably how an anti-democratic regime can exclude entire segments of a population from the political process and strangulate them economically.

Fontamara is an unforgettable masterpiece.
The humble rise up in Fascist Italy 2 Mar. 2015
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Unknown Binding
While "Bread and Wine" remains this Italian anti-totalitarian novelist-politician's most famous book, there's a reason this semi-prequel is still taught in seminars and enjoyed by those who value literature engaged with social struggle and emerging from the classes who strive to combine equality with liberty. Silone published this in Swiss exile, and it was first translated into English in 1934, when it made a wide impact as fascism rallied opponents. It documents his native Abruzzo, where peasants seek to confront the corrupt alliance of a landowner known here as the Contractor, with the authorities. The "cafoni" or common toilers of the soil have been fooled into signing blank sheets, and over them, assent to having their water split with that landowner, 3/4 one way and 3/4 the other.

Naturally, Silone with a typical combination of light irony and heavy moral shows the inability of the peasants to figure out this fractional divide of what had been their natural and ancestral right to water. The novel is mostly told by Giuvà, one of the peasants; his wife Matalè steps in to tell a crucial episode when the "black jackets" invade the village and rape women in vengeance against their protests for a fair share of the precious, and diverted water, into the estate of the landowner. Final episodes, after another crackdown scatters the men from the village, comes via their unnamed son.

This sounds didactic. But the fiery defiance of Berardo Viola, one who refuses to stand down, represents the socialist-inspired opposition of which Silone was a part, before, during, after his exile. The arguments, the touches of necessary humor, and the complicity of church, the law, and the bureaucracy with the state and its leader (both rarely referred to directly), dramatize the reality of the rural conditions and the dangerous rebellion--both of which Silone knew firsthand, and memorialized. The novel's setting also unfolds into "Bread and Wine" and "The Seed Beneath the Snow," but the freshness of the choral narrative and the lighter touch of this first novel recommend it.
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