A book from Abruzzo: Fontamara


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FONTAMARA is a novel about life in the rural Abruzzo region.
Ignazio Silone, the author, was born in Pescina (L’Aquila Province) in 1900 and lost many family members, including his mother, in the 1915 Avezzano earthquake.
Silone narrates the struggles of the cafoni, the farmers and peasants of his native Abruzzo, against poverty, natural disasters, and totalitarianism.
Italian edition’s cover

Fontamara is a fictional small rural village in Marsica in Abruzzo. The people (the Fontamaresi) are poor and the village is very remote to the extent that the citizens are unaware of world events. There is a tremendous gap between the “cafoni” (peasants) who populate Fontamara and those who live in the city.
The Fontamaresi work the land to survive, turn to emigration as a means of economic improvement and are ignorant to events happening outside of their town. They are cut off from the rest of Italy and thus unaffected by modernity and new technology.

From the book:“At the head of everything is God, the Lord of Heaven.
Everyone knows that. Then comes Prince Torlonia, lord of the earth.
Then come Prince Torlonia’s guards
Then come Prince Torlonia’s guard’s dogs
Then, nothing at all.
Then, nothing at all.
Then, nothing at all.
Then come the cafoni. And that’s all”

Fontamara was written in 1930 when Silone was a refugee from the Fascist Police in Switzerland.

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