Life of Moravia

Alberto Moravia, Author, Alain Elkann, Author, Alain Elkann, Joint Author
Alberto Moravia, Author, Alain Elkann, Author, Alain Elkann, Joint Author Steerforth Press $27 (350p) ISBN 978-1-883642-50-1
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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The first copies of this, Moravia's last book, came off the press in Italy 10 years ago, on the day he died. A unique interview-autobiography, the book offers a series of questions and answers that allowed the renowned Italian novelist to share his thoughts on the events that inspired his imagination--material that is sure to be of special interest to academics and students of Italian literature and politics. Throughout, Moravia's style of speech parallels that of his prose--intensely self-possessed, sprinkled with piercing analysis, striking observations, unconventional opinions and daring statements, all sustained by a self-assured nonchalance that never edges into arrogance. While the extended interview, conducted by Moravia's friend Elkann, contains typical musings on books, writers and personalities, Moravia clearly prefers to speak about his life. Censored both by Mussolini's fascist government and the Vatican, he countered by using allegory to indirectly present reality. The strength of this book is in the insight it provides into how Moravia's literary works were built upon his experiences. As a child and young man, Moravia suffered from tuberculosis. Confined to his bed with no friends or social life, only books and his imagination offered solace. At the age of 18, he began drafting his first novel, The Time of Indifference, perhaps the first European existentialist novel, which when published three years later was an immediate success. While the interview format of this autobiography proves monotonous, the author's innate delectation for storytelling and his craving for adventure, both real and imaginary, ensure a bevy of dynamic anecdotes. (Oct.)
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