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Alberto Moravia (1907 - 1990)

Lifespan: 1907 - 1990

Related: Italian literature - modernist literature - 1900s literature - novelist

Titles: The Conformist (1951) - Contempt (1954) - Boredom (1960) - The Voyeur (1985)

In the mid-twentieth century Moravia was the most widely-known Italian novelist in English-speaking countries. The Conformist and Contempt have been made into films by Bertolucci and Godard. He was a friend of Pasolini. Today he is less known, current popular Italian favourites being Eco and Calvino. His themes are the typical modernist anxieties: realistic pessimism, sexuality and alienation. Three of his novels are listed in the anthology 1001 books you must .... [Aug 2006]

In the 1950s Moravia abandoned the third-person narrative, and used the limited, non-objective first person narrative in tune with the modernist literature theories. --http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/moravia.htm [Oct 2006]

The Woman of Rome (1949) - Alberto Moravia
Published in Penguin Books 1952. This edition 1976.
© Alberto Moravia 1949
image sourced here.


Alberto Moravia (November 28, 1907 - September 26, 1990; born Alberto Pincherle) was one of the leading Italian novelists in the 20th century. His works explored issues of modern sexuality, alienation, and existentialism. He is best known for his antifascist novel Il Conformista (The conformist), which was the basis for the 1970 film The Conformist from director Bernardo Bertolucci. Other Moravia novels that became films include Il Disprezzo/A Ghost at Noon (filmed by Jean-Luc Godard) and La Ciociara/Two Women (filmed by Vittorio de Sica).

Moravia spent a significant portion of his adolescence in sanitariums, where he wrote his first novel, Gli Indifferenti (The Indifferent Ones). In addition to writing novels and short stories, Moravia worked as a journalist for several major Italian newspapers and magazines, including Il Corriere della Sera and Il Mondo. Later in life, he entered the world of politics and represented Italy in the European Parliament from 1984 until his death. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Moravia [Jan 2005]

Conjugal Love (1947) - Alberto Moravia

Conjugal Love (1947) - Alberto Moravia
[FR] [DE] [UK]

I just finished this short novel by Moravia, my second of his books, the first being The Voyeur, by which I had been impressed. It is to be re-published in English in 2007 and described thus:

Book Description
"A story of love, obsession, and betrayal from "the most important Italian creative writer [of the twentieth] century."—The Times [London]

When Silvio, a rich Italian dilettante, and his beautiful wife agree to move to the country and forgo sex so that he will have the energy to write a successful novel, something is bound to go wrong: Silvio's literary ambitions are far too big for his second-rate talent, and his wife Leda is a passionate woman. Antonio, the local barber who comes every morning to shave Silvio, sparks off this dangerously combustible situation when Leda accuses him of trying to molest her. Silvio obstinately refuses to dismiss him, and the quarrel and its shattering consequences put the couple's love to the test.

Alberto Moravia earned his international reputation with frank, finely-observed stories of love and sex at all levels of society. In this new English translation of Conjugal Love, he explores an imperiled relationship with his customary unadorned style, psychological penetration, and narrative art.

Just as in The Voyeur the main theme of Conjugal Love is a wife unfaithful to her husband. In both cases the husband is the narrator. I identify the narrator with Moravia himself. In real life, Moravia's wife was unfaithful to him with Klaus Kinski (Kinski Uncut: The Autobiography of Klaus Kinski). Instead of disliking or becoming angry at the unfaithfullness, the narrator gets a perverse pleasure from it reminiscent of candaulism.

Moravia is famous for another novel which bears the name Boredom. Now as you know boredom is a prerogative of the very rich. Poor people don't have time to be bored, they have to work. In real life, Moravia was born into a wealthy family.

See also: adultery - marriage - 1947

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