At first blush Bread and Wine seems to be a thoughtfully approving portrait of a young revolutionary, Pietro Spina, in Mussolini's Italy. Spina's life is much like that of the author: staunchly anti-fascist, forced to live in exile, flirtation with communism, eventual embrace of a non-communistic revolutionary socialism. So of course the author would view his principal character with affection. And he does. He draws a stark contrast between the pure resolve of Spina and the "go along to get a.
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Translations are treacherous. With an elderly priest and his aged sister waiting for visitors to come celebrate his birthday. Eventually three gentlemen join them. And we find out more about why the priest has lost favor in the community—his unwillingness to separate the church from the current politics of the country. The scene effectively sets the stage for the coming debates on communism and social responsibilty that will be wrestled with for the rest of the book.
The novel quickly leaves the priest behind to follow one of his students, Pietro Spina, as he steals his way back into Italy as a socialist comrade.
Reluctantly his schoolmate a doctor , decides to help him lie low for a few months in a tiny, rural and impoverished village where Spina is disguised as a priest—Don Paolo. During his time in hiding, he learns more about the terrifying hopelessness and resignation of the villagers.
This is largely because Pietro himself, is such a privileged character who is not ever seriously affected by the poverty around him, or burdened by familial obligations like the others. Even the romantic connections he forms, soon dissipates, and is forgotten. Despite its dogged campaign against conformity, and popular thought of all kind, nothing endears me to this book.
Prevailing throughout is a thinly disguised contempt for the rural villagers, and their perceived ignorance, passivity and apathy. The women are mostly smothering, feminine creatures plagued with hysteria the very last scene and character being an important and interesting exception. Originally penned in Italian, Bread and Wine was published in multiple languages throughout Europe in the mids.
In this way, within this context, the ideas celebrated in the book are shocking and revolutionary. It takes no sides. It denounces capitalism, while betraying sympathy and respect for land-owners and bankers. It embraces communism, while sneering at its conformity and eventually dismissing its legitimacy. As I go among the poor in my own day and age, I remember this book, and find that what this has to say rings true. We do not bring our offerings to God as repayment for what He has already done.
In fact I think it is quite the opposite. Also, remember, Silone was against Communism at the time he wrote the book. I am not sure how you understood this from my review. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
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Bread and Wine
Translations are treacherous. With an elderly priest and his aged sister waiting for visitors to come celebrate his birthday. Eventually three gentlemen join them. And we find out more about why the priest has lost favor in the community—his unwillingness to separate the church from the current politics of the country.
By Ignazio Silone. See comments at end for addition from internet readers. In that novel he explored in detail the lives of peasants in the early s rise of Fascism in Italy. The novel centers around the character of Pietro Spina, a young revolutionary in his early thirties who is being intensely hunted by the police so he takes on the disguise of an older priest and carries off this masquerade for the whole of the tale, as Don Paolo Spada.