An Interview with Ignazio Silone

An Interview with Ignazio Silone

Why do you write?

To communicate.


And when you write, are you consciously partial to certain classes of readers?

To the discontented ones, to men and women who are reflective.


What have your books to offer such people?

A bit of company.


And how about the mere casual readers?

A fly around the ears.


What is your opinion of critics?

The world has a place for everyone.


What influence has criticism had on the direction of your work?

None whatsoever.


Your favorite authors?

Cervantes, Tolstoy, and Verga.


And your favorite contemporary painter?



What would you consider the second best occupation?

A miller.


And the best?

To talk; to read.


Are you planning to return some day to active political life?

If all liberty was in danger.


What is Nature’s greatest gift?

Good health.


Which relationships have been the most crucial in your life?

Those with persons of integrity; and among the well-known, Don Orione, Gramsci, Trotsky, and Ragaz.


Who at the moment are the most stimulating figures for you in Italian history?

Joachim of Flora, Francis of Assisi, and Thomas Campanella.


And in our time?

Simone Weil.


What is the most important date in universal history?

The 25th of December in the year zero.


And in recent history?

June 17, 1953, when the East German workers mutinied.


Have you any opinions about the third World War?

It will provide the basis for the fourth one.


Whom do you admire most among military heroes?

Joshua in the act of stopping the sun, and the soldier Schweik.


Do you believe that progress is inevitable?



Or that man is by nature a free agent?

I believe that man can be free.


Or that he is responsible for his acts?

To the extent that he is free.


Do you believe that man can conquer his destiny?

Yes, if he accepts it.


Have you any opinions about suicide?

It is one of many things that I have never succeeded in understanding.


Do you believe there will ever be a perfect political order?



Or in the possibility of perfect laws, institutions, and government?