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Posted July 13, 2012
Anyone interested in the psychological side of popular movements, and Fascism especially, should check this out. While not as emotionally wrenching as some of Moravia's other work - like his superb Il Disprezzo - the portrayal of Marcello Clerici is complex and multifaceted, while somehow restraining the reader from feeling even an ounce of sympathy with the protagonist.
In my view, the book paints a much more interesting character in Clerici than Bertolucci's film adaptation (still well worth the viewing, if only for the best cinematography I've ever seen) and refuses to give the reader anything close to an easy way of getting to grips with the story.
The book is a challenging read in any language, but this translation is as lucid and crisp as Moravia's prose can be rendered in English. Highly recommended and make sure you don't skip the excellent prologue, which could be a wonderful short story unto itself!