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Gli Ammonitori is the only novel by Giovanni Cena. Published in installments in the Nuova Antologia in 1903 and then in a single volume in 1904, it is a rare example of proletarian and urban Italian novel, son of the fin de siècle socialist circles in Turin. The text tells of Martino Stanga, a young self-taught typographer who begins his path of political awakening, of broadly socialist origin, in Turin at the end of the nineteenth century, until he decides to make a demonstrative gesture: commit suicide by throwing himself under the king’s car of Italy to draw attention to the living conditions of the proletarian masses of the citizens. The other protagonist is the council house in the San Donato district: the inhabitants of the building, in which the social vocation of the novel resonates, are the trigger for the political action of the protagonist-witness.

Giovanni Cena (1870-1917), Piedmontese writer and art critic, is one of the Italian authors who best understood aesthetic reflection with the themes of the representation of work and the subaltern classes. In the early years of the century he moved to Rome, where he started working at the Nuova Antologia, one of the most prestigious Italian magazines, and had a long relationship with Sibilla Aleramo, with whom he shared an idea of ​​literature as a vector of growth human and social.