Fontamara was written in a moment of bitterness, of regret and loneliness, in the uncertainty of the future, but also with the moral intention to withstand to the dismay of the present. In a house of care of Davos, in Switzerland, in 1930, he conceived his first novel also to denounce the state of social discouragement in which his country was, besides the need to clarify to himself the meaning of his personal contribution to the boors cause, when he left the Communist Party. The novel appeared the first time in the Swiss edition, to the author expenses, sustained by 800 signatures; it was translated into German by Nettie Sutro, in Zurigo, in 1933, and it had a clandestine diffusion in Germany. Then it also appeared in episodes in fourteen Swiss periodicals of German language; but the greatest popularization was made by the Italian political fugitives launchings who transited in Switzerland directed in other countries. In Italy it was published in episodes in 1945 in the weekly magazine of Buonaiuti " Il risveglio " and in 1947 near the publishing house Faro of Rome. The last edition was in 1949 with Mondadori.
Fontamara is the story of a country in the Marsica, constituted by few hovels and primitive roads. The choice of the historical time of this novel is specified when, to the ancient soprusis of which the poor country men of that country are victims, also the violence of the fascist arrived to the power, was added. The new political reality strikes Fontamara in two vital points: the electric energy and the water. The first has been removed from the country because the inhabitants of Fontamara didn't pay the canons from a long time and they hadnt any money to pay it. After all they havent a lot of regrets, because they have been accustomed by time to use the moonlight. But, without moon, those poor countrymen are destined to starve. And the focal point of the novel is, the tragedy that has origin from a serious abuse committed by an influent fascist leader, called the entrepreneur, against the inhabitants of Fontamara. In fact he had bought from some time Don Carlo Magnas lands, a great landowner now reduced in bad economic conditions.
The entrepreneur, a political, a great deal scheming and businessman, want to reclaim those poor and borren lands letting the only waterway of the zone, that was the life of the inabitans of Fontamara. Only through that water the countrymen survived, cultivating the underlying irrigated fields of the valley.
But nobody can stop the entrepreneur, a man without scruples, thought politically by the fascist and the local gentlemen; so much now that he has become podestà of the chief town. The inhabitants of Fantamara are poor, ingenue people, impotent alone to face the ambitious aims of this unprejudiced man without scruples. Then, he has the connivance of the local managing class, like Don Circostanza, Don Abbacchio the cavalier Pelino, who operate in his favor, trying to convince people to the new political situation. In front of the waters theft, so much precious for them, the countrymen react immediately, but Don Circostanza intervenes, who, in accord with the notary, teases some poor people dividing the water in equal parts: three quarters will go to the entrepreneur and the others three quarters to the countrymen! There the countrymen don't understand the prank, but soon they are forced to the hunger for the legal waters theft. Here the turbid and the revolution.
To the water s theft now the violence of the fascist bad teams is added, that invade the country, they threaten, and they rape the women. During a great fascist political assembly in the chief town, where big authorities unthread , the big misunderstanding on the division of the Fucinos land is definitely clarified, the lands that constituted the supreme hope of the young countrymen of Fontamara. Among these ocountymen there is a youngman, Berardo Viola, a strong and intelligent man, who understands the deception made against poor people, and he becomes the political leader of the countrymen hungry of lands.
He is the first true socialist hero of Silone, lover of the justice and confident in a renewal of the society. The youngmen of the country follow him and they hang from his lips and his action. But his enthusiasm is dissolved in a certain moment, because he loves Elvira, the most beautiful and honestest girls of the country. He wants to make him a position to marry her, to work abroad, even to Rome, to accumulate some money and to buy some lands where he can maintain his family.
However this simple dream is broken by the fascist violence: he is halted and killed in the jail, because he doesn't want to disclose who works incognito against the regime. Also Elvira dies for the pain.