The four fragments selected represent one of the typical aspects
of my work, because they contain a reversal of values which may
surprise the ordinary reader: things which the world despises are
shown to be precious, eccentricity is a protective cloak for honesty,
and law-breaking is only a homage to common sense. In The Seed
Beneath the Snow, the beggars seem kings in exile, and Crown
Prince Umberto, on his one appearance, is mistaken for a film-actor.
Simone and Faustina live on the margin of the community from
which they have voluntarily estranged themselves. Faustina is held
to be the mistress of an old musician in whose house she lives, and
she accepts this unfounded reputation because it is a means of
breaking off all connections with people whom she despises. Simone,
for analogous reasons, is reduced to living in a stable in the open
country. Pietro Spina, to evade the pursuit of the Fascist police, has
unexpectedly taken refuge with him in this stable.
Pietro and Faustina. Pietro, on the point of being captured by the
police, is saved by Faustina, and together they take refuge in a
mountain village. It is their first meeting since childhood, and in the
meantime both, quite independently of each other, have caused
scandal in their respective families.
Pietro preaches pride. The moral landscape of The Seed Beneath
the Snow is that of a society which has reached the extreme limits
of decadence. The resistance to tyranny has not succeeded in finding
political forms. Only the very poor remain outside the general cor-
ruption. It is towards them, therefore, that Pietro spontaneously
goes. It is not a question of spreading political slogans, but of
wakening the sense of man.