A Life of Ignazio Silone
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374113483, 448pp.
Publication Date: June 9, 2009
One of the major figures of twentieth-century European literature, Ignazio Silone (1900-78) is the subject of this award-winning new biography by the noted Italian historian Stanislao G. Pugliese. A founding member of the Italian Communist Party, Silone took up writing only after being expelled from the PCI and garnered immediate success with his first book, "Fontamara," the most influential and widely translated work of antifascism in the 1930s. In World War II, the U.S. Army printed unauthorized versions of it, along with Silone's "Bread and Wine," and distributed them throughout Italy during the country's Nazi occupation. During the cold war, he was an outspoken opponent of Soviet oppression and was twice considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Twenty years after his death, Silone was the object of controversy when reports arose indicating that he had been an informant for the Fascist police. Pugliese's biography, the most comprehensive work on Silone by far and the first full-length biography to be published in English, evaluates all the evidence and paints a portrait of a complex figure whose life and work bear themes with contemporary relevance and resonance. "Bitter Spring," the winner of the 2008 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, is a memorable biography of one of the twentieth century's greatest writers against totalitarianism in all its forms, set amid one of the most troubled moments in modern history.
Stanislao G. Pugliese is a professor of modern European history at Hofstra University. A former fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Italian Academy at Columbia University, and the University of Oxford, he is the author of Carlo Rosselli: Socialist Heretic and Antifascist Exile and the translator of Silone’s Memoir from a Swiss Prison.
Praise for Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone
Winner of the 2008 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History
“In this major study, Pugliese interweaves vivid anecdote, insightful commentary, and historical fact to produce a life story of the utmost power and consequence.”—Millicent Marcus, Chair of the Department of Italian Language and Literature, Yale University
“This is a remarkable work. Its clear and compelling style, expert scholarship, and
profound sensitivity combine to make Bitter Spring indispensable reading for all who are seriously interested in Silone’s life and times.”—Maria Nicolai Paynter, Professor of Italian, Hunter College, and author of Ignazio Silone: Beyond the Tragic Vision
“Pugliese’s biography retrieves Silone’s complex life and times with careful scholarship,
exemplary fairness, and deep sympathy.”—Charles S. Maier, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University
“Pugliese’s analysis of Silone is as astutely sensitive as his subject, one of the great
writers of the twentieth century, whose devotion to political justice is bestirred by the quest for spiritual salvation.”—John Patrick Diggins, author of Mussolini and Fascism:
The View from America
“Bitter Spring resonates with historical understanding and human compassion.”—Valdo Spini, President, Circolo Rosselli Foundation
“Pugliese has written a wonderfully engaging and illuminating biography of this very difficult man, Ignazio Silone—a great novelist, a tortured political militant, and, for many of us, a moral hero. ‘There is no single truth about Silone,’ his wife, Darina, said, ‘only many truths.’ This book is a truthful account of the many truths.” —Michael Walzer, coeditor of Dissent magazine
“Pugliese finally gives readers a mature account of a life that produced some of the twentieth century’s most powerful and widely translated literary art and political commentary. A much-needed work of literary and political scholarship.”—Bryce Christensen, Booklist (starred review)
“The first full English-language biography of the celebrated Italian novelist . . . rigorously argued . . . passionate and wise.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] solid and engaging biography”—Publishers Weekly