Introducing the book Bread and Wine by Iniatsio Silone
Bread and wine is the story of intellectuals who want to go somewhere, and it is also the story of frustrated intellectuals who have not gone anywhere. This novel expresses the inner struggles of human beings who are in search of a better and more humane world, and in the meantime the intellectual position is the most sensitive because they can not behave like a farmer.
This readable novel is the work of the Italian author, Ignacio Silone, whose knowledge of his life and some of his political activities will help to better understand the novel, because the adventures of the protagonist of the novel Bread and Wine are somehow from the author’s own life. Originated.
Silone had a difficult childhood and grew up in poverty. He lost his parents and five brothers in the 1915 earthquake. After graduating, he became a socialist and in 1921 was one of the founders of the Italian Communist Party. From 1921 to 1931 he was one of the organizers of secret anti-fascist activities.
He lived in Moscow for some time and settled in Switzerland after being expelled from the Italian Communist Party in 1930. In Switzerland he created masterpieces such as “Bread and Wine” and “Seeds Under the Snow”. In Switzerland, Ceylon continued his anti-fascist activities and his secret struggle against Mussolini’s dictatorial regime.
Ceylon returned to Italy in 1945 after the fall of Mussolini’s fascist regime and was elected to the Italian National Assembly by the Social Democrats. Bread and Wine and his other novels are reminiscent of the anti-fascist struggles of Italian liberals and active socialists, and depict the painful lives of poor peasants.
Iniatsio Silone published the book Bread and Wine in 1937, and then in 1940 published The Seed Under the Snow, a continuation of Bread and Wine. We suggest that you also read the book Seeds Under the Snow to better and more deeply understand the author’s ideas in the book Bread and Wine.
An excerpt from the text on the back of the book reads:
This novel is in fact Silone. He speaks of a bored revolution that he felt was coming to him. In fact, the book discusses some of the reasons for the author’s decision to leave the Communist Party in 1930.
Bread and Wine Novel
The story of the book takes place during the reign of Mussolini. Cafes – in Italian, the poor peasant – have a hard life and are so weak that they can do nothing. In fact, not even the thought of taking action against the oppression that befalls them is formed in their minds. At the same time, the church is supporting the government, and the general public is steeped in religious superstitions and prejudices. It is in this context that the protagonist tries to do something.
There was a time when honesty had advanced to some extent and was more or less negligible, but today it has no market at all. The Pope considers it a rural, primitive and very expensive commodity, if it is a lie and hypocrisy, it is a soft velvet commodity and is always common and not only cheap but also useful. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 20)
The book begins with a meeting of two old students who have gone to see their teacher, Dan Benhandtou. Dan Benhadotto is a prominent priest who did not take the side of the government and therefore ended his service “on the pretext that his temperament was altered.” He now lives with his sister in a village.
In a meeting with two of his older students, Dan Benedetto asks about the other students. It is in this meeting that the master wants to know the status of his best student, Pietro Spina – the protagonist. One of the students explains the situation of Pietro Spina to the teacher as follows:
Spina was arrested in 1927 and it turned out that he had been transferred to an island. The following year, he fled the island and took refuge in France. He was deported from France and went to Switzerland, he was expelled from Switzerland, he went to Luxembourg, he was expelled from Luxembourg, he took refuge in Belgium, and if he was not expelled from Belgium, he must be there now.
I do not know how he earns his living, but what is certain is that he cleverly ties the devil’s hand from behind. I heard from one of his relatives that he has breast disease. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 43)
But the protagonist, Pietro Spina, has now secretly returned to Italy. Spina, who had previously wanted to become a priest, had entered the church and knew religious ideas wholeheartedly, but after a while the church’s ideals were not realized, she changed course and is now a socialist working against fascism and the idea of a revolution in Has a head. Spina has returned to Italy with the intention of helping the cafes, but she is not in good physical condition and is seriously ill.
To regain her health, Spina disguises herself as a priest and secretly changes her name to Dan Paolo and goes to a small village called Petraska. In this village, he becomes closely acquainted with the life of the Kafuns and realizes that it is very difficult to awaken these poor peasants who are drowning in religious superstitions, and nothing can be done by the old methods.
Poor coffees! They do not have bread to eat then do you expect them to get involved in politics? Politics is a luxury for people with their hands in their mouths. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 286)
It is in this village that Pietro Spina meets a young girl named Christina who wants to become a nun, and through her conversations with her, she discovers that her belief in revolution is due to her loyalty to the moral essence of Christianity. A Christianity that he still refuses to accept its myth. So while realizing from the inside the futility of the struggle is exclusively realistic, he goes to see his master Dan Benhead and…
The protagonist of the novel Bread and Wine, though a socialist, is never a dogmatic party entity. He is constantly criticizing himself and criticizing himself. Although he believes in socialism, he is already analyzing its future. This is exactly the constant issue of the movement and the system.
As long as a movement does not become a system, it is dynamic and has all the good features, but as soon as it comes to power, it loses all its positive points and retains its ideological position. Spina’s adventures and the work she does in this book illustrate well the critiques of fascism and socialism.
This book has been reprinted many times in different volumes over time, and below you can see another image of its cover design.
About the novel by Ignacio Silone
The important themes throughout the book are the three main elements of religion, fascism and socialism. Ignacio Silone strongly criticizes the church and the superstitions that are prevalent among the people, and also uses every opportunity to show the ugly face of Mussolini’s fascist rule. At the same time, it does not ignore socialism and exposes its weaknesses to the reader. The bread and wine hero is anti-religious, but he himself is somehow the essence of the truth of Christ.
The publisher mentions at the beginning of the book that the protagonist is a representative of socialism fighting against fascism. Fascism at the heart of which is the religious bigotry and reactionary religion of the church. In fact, bread and wine are the story of self-sacrifice. The story is a repetition of the heavenly ransom that Jesus Christ offered before the crucifixion at the Last Supper with the apostles. “That’s the story.”
There is also bitter humor throughout the novel, which the author uses to illustrate superstition, ignorance, and religious bigotry. Mohammad Ghazi also writes about the book in the introduction he wrote to the book:
The book contains an exciting story of the life of the poor peasants of Italy, in which their superstitious habits, customs and beliefs, and their miserable life are described in simple, sweet, humorous and ironic language. It is a book full of excitement and full of vivid and interesting human scenes where the feeling of humanity and human emotions and political and social youth and the love of living and thinking freely are rippling everywhere. It is only a lesson that this beautiful and valuable work teaches us to be in bondage and to despise the welfare and enjoyment associated with slavery and to live for the sake of society.
In general, it can be said that the book Bread and Wine is a novel that shows the truth behind different ideologies and the author has used humor to show some of its facts, but in this bitter novel that also reflects the hardships of the Italian people, there are strong characters. Like Dan Bennetto, Pietro Spina, Christina, Bina Kina and… are promising.
Characters in which humanity is still alive and show us sacrifice. The atmosphere of this book is not unlike that of Lillian Vinich’s novel Khormags. In fact, each of the characters in the book Bread and Wine can be considered a snob who tries to challenge the theories, beliefs of the general public and the existing politics.
Pietro Spina believes that in order to achieve a better situation, one must fight wholeheartedly, but in the end, the question arises as to how right and valuable is the struggle for any ideology and ideal ?! Basically, will the desired result and the necessary corrections be achieved or not? And is it not the case that every ideology, as soon as it comes to power, loses all its ideals and is drowned in its blind prejudices, that pure and virgin human beings like Spina are the only other Christians at a time when they have no future but to carry their cross in Golgotha ?!
Mohammad Ghazi has also mentioned the readability of the novel Bread and Wine several times in the book of a translator’s memoirs, and tells the story of its translation, which is a readable story in itself.
I suggest you read this novel if you are interested in political novels and novels that criticize religious superstitions. Finally, I would like to point out that at the end of the book, there is no talk about the fate of the protagonist. The reason for this is that the author continues the story of the novel in the book Seed Under the Snow from where bread and wine end. The book Seed Under the Snow has also been translated by Mehdi Sahabi and published by Amirkabir Publishing.
Sentences from the text of the book Bread and Wine
The day when the ears of expediency are opened and the language of expedient tulips is spoken, that day will be the beginning of very painful moments that I wish you would not miss. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 26)
Freedom is not something to be given to anyone. You can live in a dictatorial country and be free. It is enough to fight against the dictator. A man who thinks with his own brain is free. A man who fights for what he knows is right is free. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 56)
The believer is never alone, on the contrary, the infidel is always alone, even if he spends his day from rooftop to dinner in the most controversial alleys. The soul that does not understand God is alone, like a leaf cut off from a tree, the only leaf that falls to the ground and withers and rots. On the contrary, the soul is attached to God because it is a leaf to the tree and by the vital sap that nourishes it to the branches, trunk, roots and the whole earth. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 119)
The body that used to be whipped no longer feels pain. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 149)
My father was an alcoholic and died at the age of forty. A few weeks before his death, he called me to him one night and told me the story of his life, that is, the story of his failure. He first started talking to me about the death of his father, my grandfather. His father had told him: “I am dying poor and failing, but all my hope is in you, maybe you can take from him what life has not given me!”
When my father felt that his time had come, he told me that he had nothing to say but to repeat what his father had told him: “I, too, my dear child, am now dying poor and failing. “I hope in you and I wish you could take from him what life has not given me!” So desires, like debts, are passed down from generation to generation.
I am now thirty-five years old, and I see that I am in the same place where my father and grandfather were. I am also a failed person and my wife is fertile. All I have to do is believe that my child will be able to take from him what life has not given me. I know that he too will not be able to escape this inevitable fate, he will also starve to death, or worse, he will become a government servant. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 249)
The magic device turns off. No one understood even three words of what that device played. But is there a need to understand? What is the use of understanding?
Who is in the throes of understanding? In fact, no one is afraid to understand. You may show curiosity and interest in understanding someone who wants to convince you, but advertising is not about capturing or trying to prove anything. Advertising is presented in the form of obvious and indisputable issues. Poor people on the street, in the country of propaganda, feel like fish on a net. There is no longer anything important that one wants to understand. There is a wide net there and for the fish that have fallen into the net, the existence of the net is a reality and it is the only reality that counts. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 281)
The church has made the religious reality of opium to numb the poor. They give what is worthy of God to Caesar, and what is worthy of Caesar, they lend to God. The heavenly spirit of God has departed from the church, and the church has become a material, fully formal, and conventional institution, preoccupied with worldly and class pursuits. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 330)
We live in a society where there is no place for free men. Only priests are safe to use religion in the service of the government and the bank, and artists who sell their art, and sages who trade with their knowledge. The rest, no matter how few, were imprisoned, deported, and monitored, provided that the governing officer did not “submerge their heads silently” as required. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 372)
Life itself is neither serious nor casual, neither boring nor interesting, but it depends on our own situation. (Novel Bread and Wine – Page 405)
2- Introducing the book Bread and wine in Aparat