What does the word 'operators' mean in here? Does it actually mean technical operator or is it an idiom of some sort?
I noticed a connection between the barn-burning section of The Moon and the Bonfires and William Faulkner's The Hamlet before I discovered that this was the final novel that Pavese translated; Faulkner's backwater know-nothings and operators are an American counterpoint to the have-nots of the impoverished, rural Italian setting in Moon.
This is from Mark Rudman's introduction for Cesare Pavese's novel. I know Faulkner's The Hamlet has a social theme of some sort in it, but I can't find the connection between the word 'operator' with 'know-nothings', 'have-nots', and 'impoverished'.