on 3 March 2004
I think Moravia takes us into the depths of the human psyche in ways that we may not necessarily want to. He forces us into ways of seeing things that we refuse to see or had failed to see. It is not a book about sex; it is more about relationships or our inability to form them. His boredom is not related to having nothing to do (he has enough time and money to do whatever he wants, if he accepts the money from his Mother), it is more about a certain detatchment and frustration due to our inability to form bonds. A feeling of being outside of our own existence. Quite a notch above beach reading I would say!
on 1 November 2009
This is a very special book for those like me who gain the most out of a book when the words go beyond making you want to turn the page, but also stay with you long after you have read them. The title of this book sounds simple, inocuous, boring even, but this is a deceptive title. This book is not about boredom in the usual sense of the word, rather it is a study into a much deeper type of human emotion, something that lies to a greater or lesser extent inside of everyone and which equates roughly to lethargy, detatchment and isolation and which Dino, the protagonist of this novel, suffers from in an extreme way. The book is in effect the story of his efforts to suppress these emotions, and to replace them with the creativity, love and sense of involvement he craves.
Put simply, Dino is unable to feel any attachment or intersest in anything. He briefly takes up painting, but when the the initial inspiration wears off he is left with the feeling of detachment from his art and thus of boredom. Dino is not ambivalent or blind to his suffering, far from it he is acutely aware of his inability to feel any sort of emotional tie or connection to anything or anyone including his own mother and suffers badly for it, to the extent that he is prepared to try anything to rid himself of this endemic 'boredom'.
With the scene set, the story essentially picks up when Dino, by a chance encounter, meets a young lady who he is physically attracted to and immediately starts sleeping with, though only as a means of distracting himself, albeit briefly, from his boredom. However, just as he once again becomes consumed with boredom and decides to leave her, he starts to discover what he sees as an unexpected side to her, which arouses his curiosity and eventually leads him from one extreme of emotion to another.
Make no mistake, this is not a love story. Whilst there is, at some point, love involved, it is not the conventional sort of love one normally reads about in romantic novels, but rather a more primal emotion, almost a base human need. This is a no-holds barred journey into Dino's mind, during what is for him a very bleak period, which Moravia takes us on. The overall story running through it serves to advance the theme of the book, the journey into Dino's world, rather than providing the main emphasis of the novel. Those looking for a gripping story may be better served by a different book (for example La Ciociara by Moravia). Those however looking for thoughts and reflections which may stay with them long after finishing the book need look no further.
For those already familiar with Moravia, this book is without a doubt amongst his best as far as use of language, descriptions, metaphors and imagery go. Moravia is a master in making emotions come alive. Whether or not the theme is your cup of tea is obviously down to personal choice; objectively speaking I can see why some may be uninterested in the theme of the novel (for instance the reviewer lower down), or may even be put off by the sometimes explicit language involved (which is not in my view unnecessary or gratuitous). As far as I am concerned it is a beautifully written, thematically compact, highly personal and immensely rewarding book into isolation and alienation.
on 13 September 2012
I wanted to read this book because I love Bertolucci's film Il Conformista which is based on a Moravia novel. In my opinion Moravia's brand of macho existentialism hasn't dated well at all. This tale of a bored, rich, self-obsessed artist suffering from painters-block who embarks on a heated relationship with a sexually voracious model seemed to me to be petty, cruel, and misogynist. Boredom indeed.
on 7 February 2003
A two dimensional novel, this could only appeal to those who want an accessibly titillating read between deceptively intellectual-looking covers.
It has been done much better before, say in Lady Chatterley's Lover - sexual obsession must be predicated on character realism. The stumbling block in this sense is that, leading protagonist Dino, emotionally vacuous and still mother-dependent, just can't conceivably attract the Lolita-esque (Nabokov, too, does the whole thing better)in a way in which will engage the reader's empathy. Yet he does. And she does. In fact they both do it quite often. Barely fleshed out characters, ironically, do get their flesh out - indeed if the novel is to achieve in any merit it's in the anatomical poetry rather than consistency in plot or characterisations.
I read it to the end, hence the two stars.
Definitely one for the beach.