The Woman of Rome (Italia) Paperback – 21 Oct 1999
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"A profoundly realistic and compassionate story which continually transcends its subject; which is in effect the story of modern Italy." -- "The Atlantic Monthly
From the Inside Flap
THE GLITTER AND CYNICISM of Rome under Mussolini provide the background of what is probably Alberto Moravia's best and best-known novel -- "The Woman of Rome. It's the story of Adriana, a simple girl with no fortune but her beauty who models naked for a painter, accepts gifts from men, and could never quite identify the moment when she traded her private dream of home and children for the life of a prostitute.
One of the very few novels of the twentieth century which can be ranked with the work of Dostoevsky, "The Woman of Rome also tells the stories of the tortured university student Giacomo, a failed revolutionary who refuses to admit his love for Adriana; of the sinister figure of Astarita, the Secret Police officer obsessed with Adriana; and of the coarse and brutal criminal Sonzogno, who treats Adriana as his private property. Within this story of passion and betrayal, Moravia calmly strips away the pride and arrogance hiding the corrupt heart of Italian Fascism.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Heavy going - written in first person, which I don't like very much. Very introspective and slow.
Struggling to finish it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is a story of Adriana, a beautiful, poor, and uneducated young woman who begins as an artist's model at the age of 16. Although she dreams of a quiet, modest home with a loving husband and children, she becomes both a prostitute and a thief. As a prostitute, she is involved with a number of men with competing ideologies and interests including Astarita, a Fascist chief of police, Giacomo, a student revolutionary against the Fascists and Sozmogo, a criminal and a thug.
The story is told in the first person. Adriana is always on stage and the character of highest interest. The reader gets to know her well. The book is told in a linear, easy-to-follow style which builds to a large cresendo, for me, at the end of the first part. The second part of the book loses slightly in dramatic intensity and in construction.
As with any work of depth, this book functions on a number of levels which reject easy paraphrase or simple meaning. Many readers see the book as a picture of corruption in Rome while others see it more as the story of Adriana. I am more inclined to the second view. As far as I can tell, however, there is a strong spiritual theme in the book which sometimes gets too little emphasis in the pull of conflicting readings.
There are no less than four pivotal scenes in The Woman of Rome set in a church. Although the book is replete with sex, violence and raw brutality, it is also highly internalized. Many of its most effective moments are those in which Adriana relects (in church or out) on her life and on the course it has taken.
The German philosopher Frederich Nietxche (Adriana does not mention and would not have known of him) used the phrase "amor fati" to describe the wise person's attitude towards life. The phrase means loving one's destiny or, to use another related Nietschean phrase, "becoming who one is". The specific facts of one's life may be determined by circumstance. What is not determined is one's attitude. A person can understand his or her life and accept it joyfully, regardless of its state. It is in the acceptance and understanding that choice resides and that gives life its value and dignity.
The novel shows the attempt of a poor, but intelligent woman to find "amor fati" and to become who she is. She struggles to accept her nature and her being as a prostitute. Many of Adriana's reflections in the church are quite explicit and insightful. Adriana, alas, is no more successful than are most people in staying with her insight into herself. That, in my opinion, is the tragedy of the story which leads to the downfall of the men involved with Adriana.
The spiritual tone of the book goes well beyond Nietsche. Together with the theme of amor fati, there is a religiosity that emphasises, in the context of Western theology, God as merciful and as all-forgiving rather than God as a moralizer or judge. This God -- or self-understanding is open to all regardless of creed or station. The religion that seems to be espoused in the book recognizes the sinful, fallen nature of people and their frequent inability to change. It seems to suggest the possiblity of atonement and forgiveness offered to everyone by a turning of the heart, even if, perhaps, behavior cannot be changed. It is a powerful picture of a God of mercy and forgiveness who holds the possiblity of love out to all.
This is a first-rate or nearly first-rate Twentieth Century novel.
It is not just a usual romantic story of a girl of humble background with a boy from a wealthy family. It is a story of a cruel, inhumane wolrd, its corruptive forces, its lack of meaning and reason, and the people who lived in it, some strived for a meaning, some gave up, some became part of the corruptive force...
Yes, it is told through the girl with some clarity of understanding of what happenned to her that may have shamed some people who have got the best education in the world. But, please, what does education have to do with wisdom. I know the intelligence of Adriana has invited criticism, but I would rather believe it.
That being said, I love this book. Like most of Moravia's books, love is a question, not a ready, easy answer to the central question of our existence - the meaning of life. Every charactor in the novel brings his/her individual history and existence, in particular, the sutdent and the lover of Adriana, Mino, deserves much respect, understanding, sympathy and affection.
Ever since I found the book in the bookstore and bought it home, I return to it from time to time, for the enjoyment of Mr. Moravia's wonderful language, for more understanding, and for people who lived in the book.
"I obeyed and he undressed in the dark and got into bed beside me. I turned toward him to embrace him, but he pushed me away wordlessly and curled himself up on the edge of the bed with his back to me. This gesture filled me with bitterness and I, too, hunched myself up, waiting for sleep with a widowed spirit. But I began to think about the sea again and was overcome by the longing to drown myself. I imagined it would only be a moment's suffering, and then my lifeless body would float from wave to wave beneath the sky for ages. [...] At last I would sink to the bottom, would be dragged head downward toward some icy blue current that would carry me along the sea for months and years among submarine rocks, fish, and seaweed, and floods of limpid seawater would wash my forehead, my breast, my belly, my legs, slowly wearing away my flesh, smoothing and refining me continually. And at last some wave, someday, would cast me up on some beach, nothing but a handful of fragile, white bones [...] a little heap of bones, without human shape, among the clean stones of a shore."
Boldly in that this is pre-"Venus and Mars" understanding of the sexes and this is Italy which even in modern day it does not enjoy a progressive reputation regarding gender equality. So for a man of that era and that culture to take on the voice and mind of a young woman and give her life and credibility to a reader is bold and successful. He captures Adriana's decline from innocence but equally bestows her with a realistic stoicism rather than bitterness.
"If I had been less blinded and inexperienced, I would have reflected that only calculated deceit can create such a sense of perfection, and that real sincerity give a picture of many faults.." she observes and reflects on the deceit of her first boyfriend.
Adriana is living with her mother. The father passed away years ago. The mother is bitter and sees their only means of material attainment through exploiting Adriana's beauty; hoping that modeling (naked) for painters may lead to other introductions, maybe acting or a leg up into a higher social strata for introductions and hopefully marriage. Adriana is simple, perhaps innocent and naive. Unfortunately modeling leads to the wrong opportunities which largely nullifies her ideals of middle class happiness.
"I then understood that my anguish was caused, not by what I was doing, but more profoundly by the bare fact of being alive, which was neither good nor evil but only painful and without meaning". It's a profound observation that accepts fate and destiny over freewill.
The plot line is interesting but hardly the heart of the story. That lies largely with Moravia's writing. Countless times using Adriana's thoughts or dialogue between she and her suitors we receive golden nuggets of life reflected. Of one suitor: "He seemed to ascribe the utmost importance to intelligence, by which he meant cleverness. And in dividing humankind into two groups - those who were clever and those where were not - he always tried to put himself in the first category."
One may argue that Moravia's female narrator is not authentic. That he could not possibly get into her mind and drive the actions. One might say her choices of lovers and those she hated are inconsistent or that she's too cliche falling for the wrong men. My own view is that she is authentic but perhaps others will have to decide it it's unique or common.
But in contrast Moravia's portrait of men and their thoughts and actions (largely bad) are illuminating, truthful, certainly authentic and perhaps that was really his goal.