Moravia (Pincherle), Alberto

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MORAVIA (Pincherle), ALBERTO (1907–1990), Italian novelist and critic. Born in Rome, Moravia took his pen name from his immigrant ancestors' country of origin. He made his reputation with works published after World War ii, and in English-speaking lands was widely regarded as the outstanding Italian writer of his time. Moravia's first novel, Gli Indifferenti (1929; The Indifferent Ones, 1932; reissued as The Time of Indifference, 1953), was covertly critical of middle class society and its passive and cynical acceptance of the Fascist dictatorship. His violent hostility toward the bourgeoisie, into which he had himself been born, and the relentless psychological analysis of the characters in his works came to the fore in Le ambizioni sbagliate (1935; Wheel of Fortune, 1938) and dominated many later novels. Moravia's early writings made it clear that he had set out to combine the 19th-century narrative tradition of Dostoievski and Flaubert with the aesthetic principles of the realistic or naturalistic novel. Totally estranged from Judaism, Moravia served during World War ii as a foreign correspondent in Germany and the Far East. His postwar works dealt largely with themes such as adolescence and relations between the sexes, and remained outside of any established literary current.

Moravia's artistry and skillful characterization are especially evident in the novels which he published after World War ii: Agostino (1945, Eng. trans. 1947); La Romana (1947; The Woman of Rome, 1949); La disubbidienza (1948; Disobedience, 1950); Il Conformista (1951; The Conformist, 1952); and Il disprezzo (1954; A Ghost at Noon, 1955). However, some critics were sensitive to the writer's preoccupation with sex and to his disinclination to pass judgment on the amorality of his heroes. There is a warmer, more sympathetic tone to his stories about the lower strata of society in Racconti romani (1954; Roman Tales, 1956) and in Il Paradiso (1970). Moravia distinguished himself as a novelist most of all, perhaps, in La Ciociara (1957; Two Women, 1958), an acute study of two characters, contrasting intellect and sensuality, which was made into a successful motion picture. His later works include La noia (1960; The Empty Canvas, 1961); L'attenzione (1965; Fr. trans. L'Attention, 1966); and a volume of short stories, Unacosa è una cosa (1967). Moravia also published L'uomo come fine (1964; Man as an End: A Defense of Humanism, 1966), a collection of major essays published between the years 1941 and 1962, and a book of plays, Teatro (1958). The variety of his interests may be gauged from three other books – Un mese in U.R.S.S. (1958; Fr. trans. Un Mois en U.R.S.S., 1954), Un ideadell' India (1962), and La rivoluzione culturale in Cina (1967; The Red Book and the Great Wall, 1968).


A. Limentani, Alberto Moravia tra esistenza e realtà (1962); E. Sanguineti, Alberto Moravia (It. 1962); O. Del Buono, Moravia (Ital, 1962), incl. bibl.; M.F. Cimmino, Lettura di Moravia (1967); P. Pancrazi, Scrittori italiani del Novecento (19392), index; idem, Scrittori d'oggi, 1 (1942), index; G. De Robertis, Scrittori del Novecento (19582), index; E. Kanduth, Wesenszuege der modernen italienischen Erzaehlliteratur… (1968), incl. Bibl. add. bibliography: G. Pandini, Invito alla lettura di Alberto Moravia (1990); F. Alfonsi, Alberto Moravia in America: un quarantennio di critica (1929–1969) (1984); idem, Alberto Moravia in Italia: un quarantennio di critica (1929–1969), (1986); A. Elkann, Vita di Moravia (1991); R. Paris, Alberto Moravia (1991); M. Piccinonno, Discorrendo di Alberto Moravia (1992); T.E. Peterson, Alberto Moravia (1996); M. Procaccia, 'L'ebreo Pincherle; Moravia tra indifferenza e rimozione', Appartenenza e differenza (1998), 161–75.

[Giorgio Romano]