Synopses & Reviews
"A story of love, obsession, and betrayal from "the most important Italian creative writer [of the twentieth] century."--"The Times" [London]
When Silvio, a rich Italian dilettante, and his beautiful wife agree to move to the country and forgo sex so that he will have the energy to write a successful novel, something is bound to go wrong: Silvio's literary ambitions are far too big for his second-rate talent, and his wife Leda is a passionate woman. Antonio, the local barber who comes every morning to shave Silvio, sparks off this dangerously combustible situation when Leda accuses him of trying to molest her. Silvio obstinately refuses to dismiss him, and the quarrel and its shattering consequences put the couple's love to the test.
Alberto Moravia earned his international reputation with frank, finely-observed stories of love and sex at all levels of society. In this new English translation of "Conjugal Love," he explores an imperiled relationship with his customary unadorned style, psychological penetration, and narrative art.
"Italian stylist Moravia (1907 1990) had his novels The Conformist and Contempt filmed by Bertolucci and Godard, respectively; this novel, freshly translated by Harss (who provides a short note), was written in 1949. Independently wealthy narrator Silvio Baldeschi is in his early 30s, an aesthete whose two elusive desires in life are to love a woman and create a great work of literature. He marries the sensuous Leda, a woman unschooled in everything except love, with whom he feels harmoniously suited. Together they move to his isolated villa in Tuscany for several months, where Leda is to act as muse for Silvio's great work. But Silvio decides their nightly lovemaking saps the energy he needs to write his masterpiece: over 20 days of intensive writing, they abstain while village barber and notorious womanizer Antonio, who comes daily to shave Silvio, moves in on Leda. The writer's inability to defend his wife's honor as the barber makes advances, let alone take her desire for Antonio seriously, begins the unraveling of their marriage. Moravia, in this Contempt-like setup, achieves a sly, convincing portrait in the voice of Silvio, whose love for Leda emasculates him, yet fuels his work." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Trouble is the result when Sylvio, a wealthy Italian dilettante with literary aspirations, and his beautiful wife, Leda, move to the country and agree to forgo sex to give Silvio the energy to write a successful novel, especially when Antonio, the local barber, is thrown into the combustible mix. Reprint.
To begin with I’d like to talk about my wife. To love means, in addition to many other things, to delight in gazing upon and observing the beloved.
--From Conjugal Love
When Silvio, a rich Italian dilettante, and his beautiful wife agree to move to the country and forgo sex so that he will have the energy to write a successful novel, something is bound to go wrong: Silvio’s literary ambitions are far too big for his second-rate talent, and his wife Leda is a passionate woman. This dangerously combustible situation is set off when Leda accuses Antonio, the local barber who comes every morning to shave Silvio, of trying to molest her. Silvio obstinately refuses to dismiss him, and the quarrel and its shattering consequences put the couple’s love to the test.
About the Author
Alberto Moravia, born in Rome in 1907, was one of the greatest Italian writers of the twentieth century. His novels, which include The Woman of Rome, The Conformist, Contempt, and Two Women, have been turned into films by Bernardo Bertolucci and Jean-Luc Godard. He died in 1990.
Marina Harss translations include For Solo Violin (Per Vionlino Solo), a war memoir by Aldo Zargani, and stories in The Forbidden Stories of Marta Veneranda, by Sonia Rivera-Vald. Her translations have also appeared in Bomb, Brooklyn Rail, and Autadafe. She is a researcher at The New Yorker, and lives in New York City.
Also by this Author - A Week in October, Stories from the City of God