masculinity

On Moravia’s Male Delusion and Female Pain

Alberto Moravia’s book The Conformist (1951), which was made into the internationally acclaimed and historically significant Bernardo Bertolucci film of the same name (1970), is often described as a psychological sketch of the fascist personality. Aside from being an excellent (and topical!) primer on the rise and fall of fascism, it is, like everything else Moravia, really about the imperiled identity of modern manhood. Although Moravia’s other novels—Conjugal Love (1949), Contempt (1954), Boredom (1960)—are less ambitious in both their scale and scope, preferring to retread the turf of bourgeois psychodrama, they also take as their subject the existential hysteria of an ambitious but blinkered anti-hero struggling in vain to escape his mediocrity.