Elio Vittorini was born in Sicily in 1908, the son of a railway worker. He abandoned formal education at the age of seventeen, after five years of primary school and three at an accounting school. He became a construction worker and started to write stories, becoming a steady contributor to a small Florentine magazine. He then moved to Florence where he worked as a proofreader. During this time he also laboriously translated Robinson Crusoe word by word into English, thus mastering a language that was to have a profound effect on his own writing. Afterward, while living in Milan, he was able to scratch out a living as a translator of such writers as Poe, D.H. Lawrence, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Saroyan. In addition to writing for small magazines, Vittorini published two books in the early thirties—Piccola Borghesia and A Journey to Sardina—and wrote a third, The Red Carnation, which was not published until 1948. He began to write In Sicily in 1936, though for political reasons it was banned a few years after its publication and had to be reprinted secretly through seven clandestine editions. Vittorini’s political difficulties intensified during the war and he was arrested and jailed for a brief period, until he and other political prisoners were set free at the approach of the Germans. He led a life of hiding during the occupation and resumed his literary career after the liberation, becoming very much a leader in the post-war renaissance and one of the great figures of twentieth-century Italian literature. His works have been translated into eleven different languages. He died from cancer in 1966, at the age of fifty-seven.