cover image Two Friends

Two Friends

Alberto Moravia, edited by Simone Casini, trans. from the Italian by Marina Harss. Other Press, $18.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-59051-336-1

In this unfinished novella, discovered in a suitcase in 1996, Moravia (1907%E2%80%931990) offers three strikingly different portraits of a friendship poisoned by political fanaticism, unfolding as three variant drafts of the same story set in Rome after the fall of Fascism. Sergio, a poor, bitter intellectual, is both drawn toward and repelled by his wealthy friend Maurizio. Consumed by rivalry and feelings of inferiority, Sergio is determined to persuade Maurizio to join the Communist Party. In turn, Maurizio seeks to undermine Sergio's moral smugness by coaxing him into strategies that are by turns brutal and humiliating, and using Sergio's besotted girlfriend as an unwitting pawn. Through Sergio and Maurizio's ideological competition, Moravia exposes the savagery and pettiness beneath their noble ideals. It is a world in which every personal encounter doubles as a political act, bleached of its emotional relevance and human meaning, its tone and existential disarray reminiscent of Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being. Because Moravia often burned early drafts of his finished works, this book offers a rare glimpse into his process, the evolution of schematic characters into realized beings, and the construction of a disturbing allegory about romance, passion, and politics gone terribly awry. (Aug.)