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Boredom (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – 31 Jul 2004
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“In its moral and artistic economy, [Boredom] is perhaps the most successful of all Moravia’s work. . . .No one has depicted a series of carnal acts, frenzied yet cold in their automatism—nudity, desire and its outlet—with such complete lack of complacence, such impassive truthfulness.”—Nicola Chiaromonte, Partisan Review
“Precise, calculating, decadent and quite brilliant.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Boredom is Moravia’s most succinct exploration of the quiet desperation at the heart of the automated human...one of Moravia’s funniest explorations on the origins of middle-class funk.” —Bill Marx, Boston Review
About the Author
Alberto Moravia (1907-1990), the child of a wealthy family, was raised at home because of illness. He published his first novel,The Time of Indifference, at the age of twenty-three. Banned from publishing under Mussolini, he emerged after World War II as one of the most admired and influential twentieth-century Italian writers. Among his best-known books to have appeared in English are Boredom, The Woman of Rome, The Conformist (the basis for Bernardo Bertolucci’s film), Roman Tales, Contempt (the basis for Jean-Luc Godard’s film), and Two Women.
William Weaver is celebrated for his numerous translations from the Italian, including Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and novels and stories by Italo Calvino.
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And yet Dino describes the threadbare homes and clothes of those he comes in contact with the distain and a vertigo inducing look straight down on those who live as they do without choice. Moravia weaves these contradictions so effortlessly that a reader may just accept them until it becomes obvious that our narrator may not be the clear thinking objective person that we first encounter. From that point for me the story grew increasingly interesting as I began to wonder a bit more of what was going on around Dino that we were not seeing and contemplated a bit more about Cecilia, his obsession and the very complex relationship with his mother that's hinted at but left unresolved.
This is my fourth Moravia novel after "Contempt (1954)", "The Woman of Rome (1947") and "The Conformist (1947)". I have liked them all. Moravia has very specific characters that he likes to explore and try to understand their unhappiness and obsessions. Even more than "The Woman of Rome" which is a first person narrative of a woman slipping into prostitution this one has a lot sex. Perhaps not the level of detail that saturate more current novels but far more than the typical novel. It's for that reason that I have a bit of a reservation about the 5 stars as the theme is a bit relentless. But as an original and provocative character study is was well worth my time.