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Probing the personal histories and private writings of well-loved authors is a tradition that came into its own in the twentieth century. Searching through journals, letters, and historical documents can reveal a great deal of fascinating new information about how a person evolved as a writer, thinker, and all-around human animal. But along with the potential for new appreciation, there is always the danger that we will discover that out heroes have been guarding more than just their privacy. IGNAZIO SILONE'S (1900-1978) fame as a cultural icon and folk hero of the Italian left is based in equal parts on his history as a professional revolutionary and as a novelist. His credentials within the nascent Italian Communist Party (PCI) were impeccable; over the course of ten years he held a series of high-profile positions starting from the party's very inception in 1921. In spire of his unwavering support of Communist ideals, however, by the late 1920s Silone was beginning to question the ethical viability of the practices of Communism as they were then evolving, to the extent that in 1929 he took a leave of absence from his official responsibilities, and left Italy for Switzerland. Though this exile was self-imposed (he went to a clinic in Davos in the ostensible hope of improving his health), only a year later he would write that he was unable to countenance the "... cretinous and criminal behaviour the Communist party (was) assuming." (1) He would be expelled from the party in 1931.