In its culture as in its politics, Italy lives under the shadow of Silvio Berlusconi. With his endless legal entanglements and sexual imbroglios and his colorful manner of governing or not governing , it often feels as if the prime minister has taken all the oxygen out of the room, the airwaves, the entire republic. The formative moment in the life of the protagonist, Marcello Clerici, comes at age 13, when he shoots a defrocked priest who has tried to seduce him. Moravia died in , a many-laureled man of letters. Several years later, three unpublished novellas were found by chance in a suitcase in his Rome residence.
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Preview — The Conformist by Alberto Moravia. The Conformist by Alberto Moravia ,. Tami Calliope Translator. Clerici is a man with everything under control - a wife who loves him, colleagues who respect him, the hidden power that comes with his secret work for the Italian political police during the Mussolini years. But then he is assigned to kill his former professor, now exiled in France, to demonstrate his loyalty to the Fascist state, and falls in love with a strange, compelling woman; his life is torn open - and with it the corrupt heart of Fascism.
Moravia equates the rise of Italian Fascism with the psychological needs of his protagonist for whom conformity becomes an obsession in a life that has included parental neglect, an oddly self-conscious desire to engage in cruel acts, and a type of male beauty which, to Clerici's great distress, other men find attractive. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published November 1st by Steerforth first published April 15th More Details Original Title.
Marcello , Giulia , Quadri, , Lina. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Conformist , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Conformist. Feb 23, Ian "Marvin" Graye rated it really liked it Shelves: reviews , read , reviewsstars , re-read.
Not only do they help understand the relationship of an individual to an authoritarian regime, but they also explore existentialist issues that became more pressing in the context of the Second World War and the post-war environment. Whether or not you get to see the film, I recommend that you read this novel. To be honest, during the first half, I wondered whether Moravia had failed to lift his work above the ideas that formed his subject matter.
No wonder that it was made into a film. I have tried to avoid any detail or implication about what follows, except to the extent that I mention the abstract nature of his own self-realisation but not the trigger of it. Marcello Clerici, a medium ranking public servant in the pre-war Government of Mussolini's Italian Fascist Party, soon to become a one-off secret agent. When we meet him, he is a relatively innocent 13 year old. At various times, Moravia describes him as timid, feminine, impressionable, unmethodical, imaginative, impetuous, passionate, confiding, expansive, sometimes positively exuberant.
In a way, his guilt derives from a first cause or an original sin. He is deprived of his innocence as a teenager, although Christian doctrine would have it that we are all born guilty.
He has a longing to be like everybody else. To be different would be to be guilty. By the time we meet him 17 years later, he is "perfectly sure of himself, entirely masculine in his tastes and in his general attitude, calm, methodical to a fault, almost completely lacking in imagination, cool and self-controlled, reserved, always equable in temper, lacking in vivacity if not actually gloomy, silent, a sort of benumbed, grey normality".
He has built "a bond, a bridge, a symbol of attachment and communion" with the middle class, the conventional, the ordinary, the common, the modest, the reassuring, the complacent. No longer is he "a solitary, an abnormal person, a mad man, he was one of them, a brother, a fellow-citizen, a comrade".
In other words, he is a Conformist. Only, his resemblance to other men is "deliberate and imitative rather than a result of a conformity of inclination". He is a fake Conformist. He feels repugnance for any form of corruption or decadence, and he is compelled to banish abnormality, subversion and disorder: "The possession of the truth did not merely permit, it also imposed, action.
Quadri is gentle, affectionate and persuasive, a father figure, if not quite Christ-like, the epitome of what the Fascist Party describes as a "negative, impotent intellectual", who, after years of passive opposition, has "passed from thought to action".
So effectively we have a conflict between two men who have been called to action for different, almost mirror image, reasons. Quadri tries to save Italy and Europe from Fascism. Marcello, placed in a position where he must bet on one horse or another, is a Conformist in one sphere, but must seem like a Judas in the other. Only History can tell who will prevail. The Correction To say more, to discuss the themes of the novel any more deeply, is to risk spoilers.
However, ultimately, Marcello must confront and deal with his complicity in the political crimes of the era. He realises that, even outside the context of the War and Fascism, he is not the only guilty one. We are all guilty. None of us is innocent: "All of us have been innocent Equally importantly, while he has struggled to achieve perfect normality, he discovers that the truly normal "take the utmost liberties with normality itself.
He should have aimed for authenticity, to be true to himself, instead. On the night of her conception, he says: "I have loved, I have united myself with a woman and have begotten another human being.
Footnotes: 1 After a while, I started to keep track of some of the key abstract terms used in the novel. The same can be said for "con-". All of these words seemed to contribute to the discussion of conformity and non-conformity. The lingering question for me is whether this recurrence of potentially related words could also occur in the original Italian text.
They contain spoilers. View all 16 comments. Apr 03, Steven Godin rated it really liked it Shelves: italy , fiction , political. The Conformist kick started my love affair with Moravia's work, of which now I am a big fan. I think of him as not just one of Italy's greatest writers, but one of the most undervalued writers of the 20th century.
In a spare and poetic prose he relishing in the finer details of existence, whilst also brilliantly capturing the Italian landscape. In The Conformist Moravia attempts to analyze what makes a fascist by using a physiological fictive narrative. His main character here: Marcello Clarici, The Conformist kick started my love affair with Moravia's work, of which now I am a big fan.
His main character here: Marcello Clarici, displays many of traits of an edgy psychopath from early in his childhood. About to be married, and searching for normalcy in his life as a way of hiding his secret work for the fascists as Italy ramps up to the war, he agrees to take his honeymoon in Paris in order to renew his acquaintance with Quadri, of which he learns he is an anti-fascist agitator and therefore must be eliminated.
He harbors no real dislike for his teacher, but his profession allows for zero sentimentally. Moravia should also be credited with writing scenes of frank and open sexuality in the novel, something he has done in other novels, and characters are somewhat twisted and deformed by their lives.
This is more a character study in the height of fascism that it is a thriller. How does one reach such a level of deviance?
Is there any such thing as redemption for someone so devoid of emotion and so bent on murder? Jan 05, Kimley rated it it was amazing Shelves: 20th-century , italian. The obsession with normalcy was perhaps the greatest bane of the 20th century. As the world became smaller and vastly diverse people began to mix more and more, people became overly concerned with this idea of being "normal" - wearing the same clothes, living in similarly furnished homes, even smoking the same brand of cigarettes all of which bring the protagonist of this particular story a feeling of great relief that he is "normal" - that is until we see the devastation that "normal" brings ab The obsession with normalcy was perhaps the greatest bane of the 20th century.
As the world became smaller and vastly diverse people began to mix more and more, people became overly concerned with this idea of being "normal" - wearing the same clothes, living in similarly furnished homes, even smoking the same brand of cigarettes all of which bring the protagonist of this particular story a feeling of great relief that he is "normal" - that is until we see the devastation that "normal" brings about.
On the one hand, an obvious critique of fascism and the horrors that were brought about by people who just conformed and went with the party line. And on the other hand, this is a very fun read - a psycho-sexual, political thriller with amazing plot twists, turns and dramatic surprises.
But there's so much more here. Moravia clearly wanted to explore just why people conform and gives us a complex, interesting character who is easy to find both repugnant and sympathetic. I'm still reeling from the depth of ideas in this book. View 2 comments. Cold but with a glassy poetic feeling for the distances between the main character, the narrator, and the rest of the world.
Tense and gripping and with an eerie stillness which really adds to the effect.
Conformista by Alberto Moravia
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Reading Alberto Moravia in Silvio Berlusconi’s Italy
The Conformist Il conformista is a novel by Alberto Moravia published in , which details the life and desire for normality of a government official during Italy 's fascist period. It is also known for the film adaptation by Bernardo Bertolucci. In the prologue, the reader witnesses numerous formative events from a short period in Marcello's childhood. In the first, Marcello coldly kills several lizards in the yard between his home and the home of his neighbor and friend, Roberto. Marcello later obtains a slingshot and fires a few stones through the ivy that covers the fence around Roberto's family's house, only to find that he has killed their family cat instead of Roberto.
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