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“A fascinating glimpse of how Moravia’s writing evolved…In Two Friends, Moravia links a human drama to the struggle between Communism and Fascism for Italy’s heart and soul . . . . [and] there is something of Marcello Mastroianni in Moravia’s protagonists: they present an endless series of self-loathing, conflicted men who aspire to make art or take some form of decisive action, but who instead are thwarted and trapped by their own lack of nerve.” —Rachel Donadio, New York Times Book Review
“The memory of desire underscores Alberto Moravia’s Two Friends…each a different perspective on an indelibly vivid—and perhaps autobiographical—love triangle involving an aristocrat and an impoverished film critic in Rome at the close of World War II.” —Vogue.com
“Moravia offers three strikingly different portraits of a friendship poisoned by political fanaticis…its tone and existential disarray [are] reminiscent of Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being…a rare glimpse into [Moravia’s] process, the evolution of schematic characters into realized beings, and the construction of a disturbing allegory about romance, passion, and politics gone terribly awry.” —Publishers Weekly
“Unflinching in their emotional realism, these are fascinating works that reveal as much about the creative process as about friendship and Italian politics.” —Kirkus Reviews
“It’s telling that Jean-Luc Godard adapted some of Moravia’s novels into films, including Contempt, and readers who enjoyed those works will appreciate this publication.” —Library Journal
“Readers are offered an extraordinary view of [Moravia’s] unique literary process as his characters come to life and he builds a disturbing story of politics, romance, and passion gone terribly wrong.” —Italian Tribune
From the pen of one of Italy's most distinguished writers, these three novellas from the early 1950s are related but unfinished and were found in a suitcase several years after Moravia's death in 1990.
All three concern the unlikely friendship between Sergio, a committed Communist and intellectual, and Maurizio, bourgeois to his well-manicured fingertips. The narratives unfold from the uneasy prewar years in Rome to the equally precarious postwar years after the fall of Fascism. Although a great admirer of Mussolini, Maurizio is essentially apathetic and apolitical, quite the opposite of his intense friend Sergio. In Version A, Sergio writes denunciatory articles for a newspaper and has long political discussions with his girlfriend, Nella, and with Maurizio, whose relationships with women are casual and short-lived. In Version B, the most psychologically brilliant of the three, Moravia explores how far Sergio is willing to go to lure Maurizio into a commitment to the Communist cause. Maurizio admits that if Sergio will persuade his girlfriend to sleep with him, the next day he will sign up with the Party. When Sergio finally embraces this scheme, he discovers that Maurizio is playing mind games and has no intention of becoming a Communist—he just wanted to see how far Sergio would go in betraying the person he loved most. In Version C, Moravia pulls a Faulknerian maneuver and recounts the story from Sergio's point of view. This rendering of the narrative reveals more of Sergio's commitment to a cause that Nella doesn't buy into—and also gives more insight into the sexual tension among the three.
Unflinching in their emotional realism, these are fascinating works that reveal as much about the creative process as about friendship and Italian politics.
Excerpted from Two Friends by Alberto Moravia Copyright © 2011 by Alberto Moravia. Excerpted by permission of Other Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
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