NABOKV-L post 0026427, Tue, 8 Sep 2015 23:40:30 -0300

Additional information about Moravia's "Lolita-like student"

By Herbert Mitgang EROTIC TALES. By Alberto Moravia. Translated from the
Italian by Tim Parks. 184 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $15.95. MEN AND
NOT MEN. By Elio Vittorini. Translated from the Italian by Sarah Henry. 197
pages. The Marlboro Press, Marlboro, Vt. $16.95. Published: December 30,

LIKE the daring Italian directors of the neorealistic films of the late
1940's and early 1950's who opened the aperture of freedom after the
darkness of the Fascist era, Alberto Moravia emerged from the postwar years
a liberated writer. While not as active politically in World War II Italy as
such novelists as Carlo Levi, Giorgio Bassani, Italo Calvino or Elio
Vittorini (or Ignazio Silone, who was in Swiss exile), Moravia and his wife,
Elsa Morante, were also on the run toward the end of the war because of his
anti-Fascist polemics. In his novels, Moravia's breakout from the strictures
of the past took a different turn: rebellion against middle-class convention
and sexual puritanism.[ ] Moravia takes his characters, and himself, very
seriously. In ''The Thing,'' he balances lesbian love and animal love
explicitly. His women seduce each other with an assist from the readings of
Baudelaire's ''Flowers of Evil,'' once ruled obscene by a French court. ''As
you see,'' says a modern seductress, ''the first verse champions lesbian
love, so delicate and affectionate compared with the brutality and
coarseness of heterosexual love.'' In another tale, ''To the Unknown God,''
a nurse arouses her hospitalized patients; one man succumbs after being
fondled. In ''The Woman With the Black Cloak,'' a widower and widow exchange
X-rated dreams on Capri. In ''The Devil Can't Save the World,'' Moravia is
at his most imaginative, somehow managing to combine an Italian scientist
obsessed with a Lolita-like student plus Einstein, Goya's ''Naked Maja'' and
the Devil. Priapic worship has been around the Mediterranean region for
several thousand years, and Moravia, with all his literary and artistic
allusions and pretensions, remains true to that Greco-Roman tradition in
many of these flaming ''Erotic Tales.''

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