(1907-11-28)November 28, 1907 Rome, Italy
|Died||September 26, 1990(1990-09-26) (aged 82)
|Resting place||Campo Verano, Rome|
|Pen name||Alberto Moravia|
|Occupation||Novelist, journalist, playwright, essayist, film critic|
|Notable works||Gli indifferenti (Time of Indifference, 1929)|
|Notable awards||Strega Prize (1952)
Premio Marzotto (1957) Viareggio Prize (1961) Premio Mondello (1982)
|Spouse||Elsa Morante (m. 1941–1961)
Carmen Llera (m. 1984)
|Partner||Dacia Maraini (1962–1978)|
Alberto Moravia (US: /moʊˈrɑːviə, -ˈreɪv-/ moh-RAH-vee-ə, -RAY-, Italian: [alˈbɛrto moˈraːvja; born Alberto Pincherle [ˈpiŋkerle; November 28, 1907 – September 26, 1990) was an Italian novelist and journalist.
Moravia is best known for his debut novel Gli indifferenti (1929) and for the anti-fascist novel Il Conformista (The Conformist), the basis for the film The Conformist (1970) directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.
Other novels of his adapted for the cinema are Agostino, filmed with the same title by Mauro Bolognini in 1962; Il disprezzo (A Ghost at Noon or Contempt), filmed by Jean-Luc Godard as Le Mépris (Contempt 1963); La Noia (Boredom), filmed with that title by Damiano Damiani in 1963 and released in the US as The Empty Canvas in 1964 and La ciociara, filmed by Vittorio De Sica as Two Women (1960).
Moravia once remarked that the most important facts of his life had been his illness, a tubercular infection of the bones that confined him to a bed for five years and Fascism, because they both caused him to suffer and do things he otherwise would not have done.
"It is what we are forced to do that forms our character, not what we do of our own free will."
Moravia was an atheist.
His writing was marked by its factual, cold, precise style, often depicting the malaise of the bourgeoisie.
It was rooted in the tradition of nineteenth-century narrative, underpinned by high social and cultural awareness.
Moravia believed that writers must, if they were to represent reality, "assume a moral position, a clearly conceived political, social, and philosophical attitude" but also that, ultimately, "A writer survives in spite of his beliefs".
Between 1959 and 1962 Moravia was president of PEN International, the worldwide association of writers.
Alberto Pincherle (the pen-name "Moravia" was a surname linked to the family) was born in Via Sgambati in Rome, Italy, to a wealthy middle-class family.
His family had interesting twists and developed a complex cultural and political character.
The brothers Carlo and Nello Rosselli, founders of the anti-fascist resistance movement Giustizia e Libertà, murdered in France by Benito Mussolini's order in 1937, were paternal cousins and his maternal uncle, Augusto De Marsanich, was an undersecretary in the National Fascist Party cabinet.
Moravia did not finish conventional schooling because, at the age of nine, he contracted tuberculosis of the bone, which confined him to bed for five years.
He spent three years at home and two in a sanatorium near Cortina d'Ampezzo, in north-eastern Italy.
Moravia was an intelligent boy and devoted himself to reading books and some of his favourite authors were Giosuè Carducci, Giovanni Boccaccio, Fyodor Dostoevsky, James Joyce, Ludovico Ariosto, Carlo Goldoni, William Shakespeare, Molière, Nikolai Gogol and Stéphane Mallarmé.
He learned French and German and wrote poems in French and Italian.
In 1925 at the age of 18, he left the sanatorium and moved to Bressanone.
During the next three years, partly in Bressanone and partly in Rome, he began to write his first novel, Gli indifferenti (Time of Indifference), published in 1929.
The novel is a realistic analysis of the moral decadence of a middle-class mother and two of her children.
The journal published his first short stories, including Cortigiana stanca (The Tired Courtesan in French as Lassitude de courtisane, 1927), Delitto al circolo del tennis (Crime at the Tennis Club, 1928), Il ladro curioso (The Curious Thief) and Apparizione (Apparition, both 1929).
Gli indifferenti and Fascist ostracism
Gli indifferenti was published at his own expense, costing 5,000 Italian lira.
Literary critics described the novel as a noteworthy example of contemporary Italian narrative fiction.
The years leading to World War II were difficult for Moravia as an author; the Fascist regime prohibited reviews of Le ambizioni sbagliate (1935), seized his novel La mascherata (Masquerade, 1941) and banned Agostino (Two Adolescents, 1941).
In 1935 he traveled to the United States to give a lecture series on Italian literature.
L'imbroglio (The Cheat) was published by Bompiani in 1937.
To avoid Fascist censorship, Moravia wrote mainly in the surrealist and allegoric styles; among the works is Il sogno del pigro (The Dream of the Lazy).
The Fascist seizure of the second edition of La mascherata in 1941, forced him to write under a pseudonym.
That same year, he married the novelist Elsa Morante, whom he had met in 1936.
They lived in Capri, where he wrote Agostino.
Return to Rome and national popularity
In May 1944, after the liberation of Rome, Alberto Moravia returned.
He began collaborating with Corrado Alvaro, writing for important newspapers such as Il Mondo and Il Corriere della Sera, the latter publishing his writing until his death.
After the war, his popularity steadily increased, with works such as La Romana (The Woman of Rome, 1947), La Disubbidienza (Disobedience, 1948), L'Amore Coniugale e altri racconti (Conjugal Love and other stories, 1949) and Il Conformista (The Conformist, 1951).
In 1952 he won the Premio Strega for I Racconti and his novels began to be translated abroad and La Provinciale was adapted to film by Mario Soldati; in 1954 Luigi Zampa directed La Romana and in 1955 Gianni Franciolini directed I Racconti Romani (The Roman Stories, 1954) a short collection that won the Marzotto Award.
In 1953, Moravia founded the literary magazine Nuovi Argomenti (New Arguments), which featured Pier Paolo Pasolini among its editors.
His criticism is collected in the volume Al Cinema (At the Cinema, 1975).
La noia and later life
In 1960, Moravia published La Noia (Boredom or The Empty Canvas), the story of the troubled sexual relationship between a young, rich painter striving to find sense in his life and an easygoing girl in Rome.
Becoming known as one of his most famous novels, it won the Viareggio Prize.
An adaptation was filmed by Damiano Damiani in 1962.
Another adaptation of the book is the basis of Cédric Kahn's film L'ennui (The Ennui, 1998).
Several films were based on his other novels: in 1960, Vittorio De Sica adapted La Ciociara, starring Sophia Loren; in 1963 Jean-Luc Godard filmed Il Disprezzo (Contempt) and in 1964, Francesco Maselli filmed Gli Indifferenti (1964).
In 1962, Moravia and Elsa Morante parted; he went to live with the young writer Dacia Maraini and concentrated on theatre.
In 1967 Moravia visited China, Japan and Korea.
In 1971 he published the novel Io e lui (I and He or The Two of Us) about a screenwriter, his independent penis and the situations to which he thrusts them and the essay Poesia e romanzo (Poetry and Novel).
In 1972 he went to Africa, which inspired his work A quale tribù appartieni?
(Which Tribe Do You Belong To?
), published in the same year.
The same theme is in the novel L'Uomo che Guarda (The Man Who Looks, 1985) and the essay L'Inverno Nucleare (The Nuclear Winter), including interviews with some contemporary principal scientists and politicians.
The short story collection, La Cosa e altri racconti (The Thing and Other Stories), was dedicated to Carmen Llera, his new companion (forty-five years his junior), whom he married in 1986.
His experiences at Strasbourg, which ended in 1988, are recounted in Il Diario Europeo (The European Diary).
In 1985 he won the title of European Personality.
Moravia was a perennial contender to the Nobel Prize in Literature, having been nominated 13 times between 1949 and 1965.
In September 1990, Alberto Moravia was found dead in the bathroom of his Lungotevere apartment, in Rome.
In that year, Bompiani published his autobiography, Vita di Moravia (Life of Moravia).
Themes and literary style
Moral aridity, the hypocrisy of contemporary life and the inability of people to find happiness in traditional ways such as love and marriage are the regnant themes in the works of Alberto Moravia.
Usually, these conditions are pathologically typical of middle-class life; marriage is the target of works such as Disobedience and L'amore coniugale (Conjugal Love, 1949).
Alienation is the theme in works such as Il disprezzo (Contempt or A Ghost at Noon.
1954) and La noia (The Empty Canvas) from the 1950s, despite observation from a rational-realistic perspective.
Political themes are often present: an example is La Romana (The Woman of Rome, 1947), the story of a prostitute entangled with the Fascist regime and with a network of conspirators.
The extreme sexual realism in La noia (The Empty Canvas, 1960) introduced the psychologically experimental works of the 1970s.
Moravia's writing style was highly regarded for being extremely stark and unadorned, characterised by elementary, common words in an elaborate syntax.
A complex mood is established by mixing a proposition constituting the description of a single psychological observation mixed with another such proposition.
In the later novels, the inner monologue is prominent.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto Moravia.