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KiWi Taschenbücher, Nr.55, Wein und Brot by…

KiWi Taschenbücher, Nr.55, Wein und Brot (edition 1984)

by Ignazio Silone

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665514,427 (3.78)14
Title:KiWi Taschenbücher, Nr.55, Wein und Brot
Authors:Ignazio Silone
Info:Kiepenheuer & Witsch (1984), Taschenbuch, 320 pages
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Bread and Wine by Ignazio Silone



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Showing 4 of 4
A curious book, its protagonist, Pietro Spina or Don Paolo as he’s called by the author once he’s disguised as a priest, is not a likeable character. It’s understandable that he has to lie in order to preserve his disguise, but he seems, particularly when the reader is forming an opinion of him, to be selfish and indifferent to others’ feelings, particularly those of his landlady, Matalena, so he doesn’t seem to me to be the best proponent of his communist ideas and rejection of capitalism which I thought were part of Silone’s purpose in writing this book.

What else reduces for me the emergence of a convincing condemnation of capitalism is that for the most part we don’t have any main characters practising it so it always remains something more ideological rather than something confronted other than in the hardship of the peasants. On the other hand we get a close-up of those suffering as well as Don Paolo so we can see just what is wrong with them. In fact, with Uliva’s denouncement of Don Paolo’s vision, saying his regime will end up being another intolerant bureaucracy like the present one, it seems as if Silone was pessimistic about any change. Similarly, I guess having the revolutionary dressing up in a priest’s garb also signifies the close association between the establishment and the revolutionary although Silone does make a clear distinction between faith and the Church – to the Church’s detriment.

I guess the title holds very Christian ideas of the sacrament and in a way this is appropriate given Spina’s disguise, but no doubt Silone also wants the reader to recognise this as representing what literally sustains the impoverished as they are always relishing wine and black bread so it’s as if this is what sustains them rather than something religious. I understand that in his 1962 rewriting of the book, the author also changed the title to ‘Wine and bread’ which would emphasize this change in concept (although it’s odd that my 1964 edition, with all the rewriting, is still called ‘Bread and wine’ in the translation even though the Italian has the nouns reversed). At the end of the novel Silone spells out the symbolism of his title, the way it represents unity, and I felt as if this symbol was a bit overworked by this time.

What works so well in this book is Silone’s style, that is, his ability to capture the essence of village life in that time which now seems so remote. The American translation by Harvey Fergusson II reads naturally so I think he deserves recognition as well as the author. It’s a book that resonates today, no doubt in part thanks to Silone’s revisions to eliminate the excesses of his original publication. ( )
  evening | Apr 7, 2015 |
I picked up this book after hearing that both Dorothy Day and Philip Berrigan found it influential to their thinking. The book follows Pietro Spina, a socialist on the the run from the authorities, who disguises himself as a priest in order to keep from being found out. The book is a reflection on revolution, on religion, and on relationships. I liked it quite a bit. There were several moving passages. The story itself is occasionally uneven and I wasn't thrilled by the ending, but it's definitely a good book to check out. ( )
  shannonkearns | Nov 13, 2011 |
3469. Bread and Wine, by Ignazio Silone (read Aug 7, 2001) This was written in 1936 when it was not permitted to be published in Fascist Italy, and was revised by Silone in 1962. Silone was a Communist from 1921 to 1931, and one of the six authors of The God That Failed--which book I read with great appreciation Mar 21, 1952. Bread and Wine was significant when Fascism was a pertinent topic, but I was not very moved by the novel, which is talky and subtle. But I had a copy of it at home, and had never read it, so I thought I would, since it is, or was, a "significant" book. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 23, 2007 |
A rich book of oppression in Italy prior to World War II; surprisingly humorous, but ultimately tragic. ( )
  Goodwillbooks | Oct 6, 2007 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ignazio Siloneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, J.F.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
David, GwendaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mosbacher, EricTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451529782, Mass Market Paperback)

One of the 20th century's essential novels depicting Fascism's rise in Italy.

Set and written in Fascist Italy, this book exposes that regime's use of brute force for the body and lies for the mind. Through the story of the once-exiled Pietro Spina, Italy comes alive with priests and peasants, students and revolutionaries, all on the brink of war.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:28 -0400)

Set and written in Fascist Italy, this book exposes that regime's use of brute force for the body and lies for the mind. Through the story of the once exiled Pietro Spina, Italy comes alive with priests and peasants, students and revolutionaries, all on the brink of war.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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