Moravia, Alberto

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Moravia, Alberto

Alberto Moravia (älbĕr´tō mōrä´vyä), 1907–90, Italian novelist, b. Alberto Pincherle; husband of Elsa Morante. Moravia is considered one of the foremost 20th-century Italian novelists. He employs taut prose in disturbing realist narratives that shed light on such issues as the relation of the individual to society; many of his characters have lost faith in the values on which moral foundations are based. His first novel, The Indifferent Ones (1929, tr. 1932), is a powerful and pitiless portrayal of the Italian bourgeoisie at the beginning of fascism. The Conformist (1951), often considered his most important novel, explores the links between sex and politics in a cynical Italian society. The Empty Canvas (1960, tr. 1961) grimly depicts the conflict and interaction between the creative and the sensual; its underlying theme is the apathy and despair of people in the modern world. Two Women (1957, tr. 1958) is a compelling story of wartime flight. His other works include Disobedience (1948, tr. 1950), Contempt (1954, tr. 1999), Two: A Phallic Novel (tr. 1972), the novellas Two Friends (c.1953, tr. 2011), the short-story collection Bought and Sold (1970, tr. 1973), and the essay collection Which Tribe Do You Belong To? (tr. 1974). Several of his novels were made into films by outstanding 20th-century directors: Two Women by Vitorio De Sica (1960), Contempt by Jean-Luc Godard (1963), and The Conformist by Bernardo Bertolucci (1970).

See biography by J. Cottrell (1974); studies by L. Rebay (1970) and J. Ross and D. Freed (1972).

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