Secondino Tranquilli (1 May 1900 – 22 August 1978), known by the pseudonym Ignazio Silone (, ), was an Italian political leader, novelist, and short-story writer, world-famous during World War II for his powerful anti-Fascist novels. He was nominated for the Nobel prize for literature ten times.


Early life and career

Silone was born in a rural family, in the town of Pescina in the Abruzzo region. His father, Paolo Tranquilli, died in 1911 and in the 1915 Avezzano earthquake, he lost many of his family members, including his mother, Marianna Delli Quadri. He left his hometown and finished high school. In 1917, Silone joined the Young Socialists group of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), rising to be their leader. He was a founding member of the breakaway Communist Party of Italy (PCd'I) in 1921 and became one of its covert leaders during the Fascist regime. Ignazio's brother Romolo Tranquilli was arrested in 1928 for being a member of the PCI and died in prison in 1931 as a result of the severe beatings he received.

Opposition to Stalinism and return to the PSI

Silone left Italy in 1927 on a mission to the Soviet Union and settled in Switzerland in 1930. While there, he declared his opposition to Joseph Stalin and the leadership of Comintern; consequently, he was expelled from the PCI. He suffered from tuberculosis and severe clinical depression and spent nearly a year in Swiss clinics; in Switzerland, Aline Valangin helped and played host to him and other migrants. As he recovered, Silone began writing his first novel, ''Fontamara'', published in German translation in 1933. The English edition, first published by Penguin Books in September 1934, went through frequent reprintings during the 1930s, with the events of the Spanish Civil War and the escalation towards the outbreak of World War II increasing attention for its subject material. The United States Army printed unauthorized versions of ''Fontamara'' and ''Bread and Wine'' and distributed them to the Italians during the liberation of Italy after 1943. These two books together with ''The Seed Beneath the Snow'' form the ''Abruzzo Trilogy''. Silone returned to Italy only in 1944, and two years later he was elected as a PSI deputy. In the course of World War II, he had become the leader of a clandestine socialist organization operating from Switzerland to support resistance groups in Nazi Germany-occupied Northern Italy. He also became an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) agent under the pseudonym of ''Len''. Following his contribution to the anti-communist anthology ''The God That Failed'' (1949), Silone joined the Congress of Cultural Freedom and edited ''Tempo Presente''. In 1967, with the discovery that the journal received secret funds from the United States Central Intelligence Agency, Silone resigned and devoted all his energies to the writing of novels and autobiographical essays. In 1969, he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize, a literary award for writers who deal with the theme of individual freedom and society. In 1971, he was the recipient of the prestigious Prix mondial Cino Del Duca.


In the 1990s, Italian historians Dario Biocca and Mauro Canali found documents which implicated that Silone acted as an informant for the Fascist police from 1919 until 1930. It is believed that the reason he broke from the Fascist police is because of the torture the police inflicted upon his brother. The two historians published the results of their research in a work titled ''L'informatore. Silone, i comunisti e la polizia''. A 2005 biography by Biocca also includes documents showing Silone's involvement with the American intelligence (the OSS) during and after the World War, Biocca suggesting that Silone's political stands (as well as extensive literary work) be reconsidered in light of a more complex personality and political engagements.

Personal life

Ignazio Silone was married to Darina Laracy (1917-2003), an Irish student of Italian literature and journalist. He died in Geneva, Switzerland in 1978.



* ''Fontamara'' (1930) (''Fontamara'', transl. Michael Wharf (1934); Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher (1938); Harvey Fergusson (1960)) * ''Un viaggio a Parigi'' (1934), (''Mr. Aristotle'', transl. Samuel Putnam (1935)) * ''Pane e vino'' (1936) (''Bread and Wine'', transl. Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher (1936)) * ''Il seme sotto la neve'' (1941) (''The Seed Beneath the Snow'', transl. Frances Frenaye (1942)) * ''Una manciata di more'' (1952) (''A Handful of Blackberries'', transl. Darina Silone (1953)) * ''Pane e vino'' (revised version, 1955) (''Bread and Wine'', transl. Harvey Fergusson (1962)) * ''Il segreto di Luca'' (1956) (''The Secret of Luca'', transl. Darina Silone (1958)) * ''La volpe e le camelie'' (1960) (''The Fox and the Camelias'', transl. Eric Mosbacher (1961)) * ''L'avventura di un povero cristiano'' (1968) (''Story of a Humble Christian'', transl. William Weaver (1970)) * ''Severina'' (1981), completed after his death by Darina Silone


* ''Il Fascismo. Origini e sviluppo'' (1934) * ''La scuola dei dittatori'' (1938) (''The School for Dictators'', transl. Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher (1939)) * ''Memoriale dal carcere svizzero'', (1942) (''Memoir from a Swiss Prison'', transl. Stanislao G. Pugliese (2006)) * ''The God that Failed'' (contribution) (1949) * ''Uscita di sicurezza'' (1965) (''Emergency Exit'', transl. Harvey Fergusson (1968)) * ''L'Avvenire dei Lavoratori'' (1945) Three of Silone's poems were included by Hanns Eisler in his ''Deutsche Sinfonie'', along with poetry by Bertolt Brecht.


* ''Ed egli si nascose'' (1944) (''And He Hid Himself'', transl. Darina Silone (1945))

Further reading

* ''Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone'' by Stanislao G. Pugliese, Farrar Straus & Giroux (2009)

Cinematic versions

*A version of ''Fontamara'', directed by Carlo Lizzani and starring Michele Placido, was released in 1977.



* Giuseppe Leone, Ignazio Silone, scrittore dell'intelligenza, Firenze Atheneum, Firenze, 1996, * Dario Biocca – Mauro Canali. ''L'informatore: Silone, i comunisti e la polizia'', Luni Editrice, Milano, Trento, 2000 * Giuseppe Tamburrano. ''Processo a Silone, La disavventura di un povero cristiano'', Lacaita Editore, Rome, 2001 * Maria Moscardelli, ''La Coperta Abruzzese. Il filo della vita di Ignazio Silone'', Ed. Aracne, Rome, 2004. * Mauro Canali. ''Le spie del regime'', Il Mulino, Bologna, 2004 * Dario Biocca. ''Silone. La doppia vita di un italiano'', Rizzoli, Milan 2005. * Mimmo Franzinelli, ''Silone in the 'thirties. www.mimmofranzinelli.it/tool/home.php?s=0,1,55,57,63, n.d. * Elizabeth Leake. ''The Reinvention of Ignazio Silone'', University of Toronto Press Toronto, 2003 * Giuseppe Leone, Silone e Machiavelli: una scuola... che non crea prìncipi, Prefazione di Vittoriano Esposito, Centro Studi Ignazio Silone, Pescina, 2003. * Giuseppe Leone, ec. al vol. diMaria Moscardelli, "La coperta abruzzese – Il filo della vita di Ignazio Silone", in "Marsica Domani", Avezzano, 31 ottobre 2005, pag. 9. * Giuseppe Leone, Nulla di vero nel Silone di Biocca, su Marsica Domani, Avezzano, 2005. * * Giuseppe Leone, ec. al vol. diValeria Giannantonio, "La scrittura oltre la vita ( Studi su Ignazio Silone)", su "Quaderni siloniani", 1-2/2005. * Michael P.McDonald, ''Il caso Silone'' (in English), www.michaelmcdonaldweb.com/essays/ilcasosilone.htm, 2001. * Maria Moscardelli, ''Silone reinvented", www.amici-silone.net/silone_reinvented.htm, 2005. * Stanislao G. Pugliese. ''Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone'', Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2009 * Giuseppe Leone e Roberto Zambonini, "Puccini e le "more" di Silone: viaggio poetico-musicale fra "soavi fanciulle" e coraggiose eroine", Malgrate (Lc), 27 agosto 2009. * Giuseppe Leone, "L'ennesimo bis del secondo "caso" Silone – Andrea Paganini e il suo "Ignazio Silone, l'uomo che si è salvato", su Pomezia-Notizie, Roma, Luglio 2010, pp. 10–11. * Giuseppe Leone, ''Il "fenicottero" Silone nella revisione di Renzo Paris, Pomezia-Notizie, febbraio 2015, pp. 10–11. * Ignazio Silone, Il seme sotto la neve. Edizione critica a cura di Alessandro La Monica, Milano-Firenze, Mondadori Education-Le Monnier Università, 2015. * Giuseppe Leone, "La scuola dei dittatori ovvero un Machiavelli di meno", in: AA.VV., "Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi Caen (7 Febbraio 2019) Pescina (23-24 Agosto 2019), "Ignazio Silone o la Logica della privazione", a cura di Mario Cimini e Brigitte Poitrenaud Lamesi, Rocco Carabba Editore, Lanciano, 2020, pp. 241–253.

External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Silone, Ignazio Category:1900 births Category:1978 deaths Category:People from Pescina Category:Italian journalists Category:Italian male journalists Category:Italian Socialist Party politicians Category:Italian Communist Party politicians Category:20th-century Italian politicians Category:Italian anti-communists Category:Italian communists Category:People of the Office of Strategic Services Category:Jerusalem Prize recipients Category:20th-century Italian novelists Category:20th-century male writers Category:Premio Campiello winners Category:Anti-Stalinist left Category:20th-century journalists Category:Italian exiles