Three Workers is a realistic novel for the social themes it addresses, for the surroundings it describes, for the fidelity to the human events it narrates without transcending. However, it is a realism continually filtered through a subjectivity that reduces objects to luminous sensations. Light continuously envelopes things, dissolving them in colored images where modest tones prevail. The sea always appears to us as a muddy horizon, the sun comes to us crosswise and in strips, things cast smoky, desolate shadows. The novel’s descriptive technique confers a twilit existence upon objects that becomes a dominant atmosphere. Objects, events, and characters do not lose the force of their reality, rather their reality appears as interrupted and shattered by a game of light and shadow that renders it intensely human. Thus, in the narrative technique the events, in the present tense, are interwoven with dialogue and, not infrequently, inner monologue which, as we know, blurs and subjectivizes the objective world.
Carlo Bernari was born in Naples in 1909 to a family of French origin (the surname is the Italianization of Bernard) and died in Rome in 1992. He showed a strong personality from an early age: at thirteen he was expelled from the technical institute he attended on charges of having instigated his classmates to rebel against a teacher. His training continued privately: Bernari paid for his lessons with the salary he received from employment in a tailor shop. He came into contact with the Neapolitan cultural environment and met, among others, Benedetto Croce – but due to conflicts with his family, he moved to Rome, where he began his activity as an editor and where, with the painter Paolo Ricci and the philosopher Guglielmo Peirce, he founded the avant-garde movement UDA, Union of Destructive Activists, whose manifesto, launched in Naples in 1929, marked a first reaction to the influence of Futurism. During a stay in Paris, he met and associated with the greatest writers of the French avant-garde – Bréton, Aragon, and Éluard. His literary works such as Speranzella, winner of the Viareggio prize in 1950, and the autobiographical novel, Il grande letto, a finalist in 1988 for the most prestigious Italian literary award, the Strega prize, and Three workers are seminal works in Italian literature.