24 July 07 | Chad W. Post

Thanks to Michael Orthofer for finding this article about Moravia’s centenary and his, um, declining appeal.

in recent years the Roman novelist seems to have lost his claim to the title of most important Italian story-teller of the late 20th century, which had been attributed to him for almost 50 years. What is the reason for Moravia’s decline in the pantheon of contemporary Italian literature? Il VELINO put that question to a number of literary experts.

As Orthofer points out, the results of this survey are as inconclusive as can be expected, but I like the little cultural jabs that come through in some of these statements, like:

“That richly deserved fame that he won while he was alive is inevitably going to fade away. [. . .] I greatly doubt whether Moravia can be a model again, because his intellectual approach, I believe, is one that is unlikely to return to fashion.”

“Moravia’s fiction is an oeuvre containing a basic, radical pessimism. This negative aspect makes it more difficult for people to absorb it today.”

Intellectual, negative writers (a la Celine, a la Bernhard) apparently don’t last. Great.

Moravia wrote a ton of books, and a number are available in English, including Contempt and Boredom, and the recently translated Conjugal Love, which Other Press brought out, and which was part of Reading the World this year.


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