Moravia, Alberto

Moravia, Alberto

(älbĕr`tō mōrä`vyä), 1907–90, Italian novelist, b. Alberto Pincherle; husband of Elsa MoranteMorante, Elsa
, c.1912–85, Italian novelist and poet; wife of Alberto Moravia. Her prose style, which is indebted to surrealism and magic realism, is characterized by the clear presentation of unreal events and always stresses the power of the imagination.
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. 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 SicaDe Sica, Vittorio
, 1901–74, Italian film director and actor. His Shoeshine (1946), The Bicycle Thief (1948), and Umberto D. (1952) are classics of postwar Italian neorealism.
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 (1960), Contempt by Jean-Luc GodardGodard, Jean-Luc
, 1930–, French film director and scriptwriter, b. Paris. He wrote criticism for a number of Parisian cinema journals in the early 1950s before embarking on his filmmaking career. Godard is probably the most influential of the French New Wave directors.
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 (1963), and The Conformist by Bernardo BertolucciBertolucci, Bernardo
, 1940–2018, Italian film director and screenwriter, considered one of the finest Italian directors of his generation. The son of poet Attilio Bertolucci and himself a published poet, he began his film career in 1961 as an assistant to director Pier
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See biography by J. Cottrell (1974); studies by L. Rebay (1970) and J. Ross and D. Freed (1972).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Moravia, Alberto


(pseudonym of Alberto Pincherle). Born Nov. 28, 1907, in Rome. Italian writer.

The sociopsychological content of Moravia’s work was apparent from his first novel, The Indifferent Ones (1929), which depicted the spiritual vacuity of Italian bourgeois youth. The satirical antifascist tenor of Moravia’s writings in the 1930’s and the early 1940’s resulted in his persecution by the fascist regime. Moravia’s postwar novel The Conformist (1951) calls for the denunciation of fascism on ethical grounds. The influence of neorealism was reflected in the two collections Roman Tales (1954; Russian translations, 1956, 1959) and More Roman Tales, about the hard life of the Roman poor, and in the novel Two Women (1957; Russian translation, 1958), about the life of poor women during World War II.

Moravia’s works of the 1960’s and the early 1970’s, including the novels The Empty Canvas (1960), The Lie (1965), and Two (1971), and the short-story collection The Fetish (1963; Russian translation, 1964) and Paradise (1970; Russian translation, 1971) develop the theme of the alienation and spiritual impoverishment of modern man in a bourgeois consumer society. Critical realism in Moravia’s work is complicated by Freudian motifs and ironic skepticism. Moravia is the author of essays, plays, and travel notes, including Month,in the USSR (1958), and a book about Africa, What Tribe Do You Belong To? (1972; Russian translation, 1973). Moravia takes part in public life and is among the progressive representatives of Italian culture.


Opere complete, 33 vols. Milan-Rome, 1953–72.
Un altra vita. Milan, 1973.
In Russian translation: Beatriche Chenchi. Moscow, 1957.
“Prezrenie.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1963, nos. 9–10.
Dom, v kotorom soversheno prestuplenie: Rasskazy. Moscow, 1964.


Potapova, Z. M. Neorealizm v itaPianskoi literature. Moscow, 1961.
Limentani, A. A. Moravia tra esistenza e realtd. Venice, 1962.
Rebay, L. A. Moravia. New York-London, 1970.
Siciliano, E. A. Moravia. Milan, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Two Women Novel by Moravia, Alberto, published in Italian in 1957 as La ciociara.