Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Alberto Pincherle Moravia was born the son of an architect in Rome, Italy, on November 28, 1907. Moravia’s father, of Jewish descent, came to Rome from Venice and his mother, née De Marsanich, was Catholic, a countess of Dalmatian origin. At the age of nine, Moravia contracted tuberculosis of the leg bone. He remained ill, except for periods of brief improvement, for the next nine years. As a result he did not receive a formal education and never graduated from high school. His long confinement also exacerbated the normal tensions of family life for the Pincherles, causing Moravia to develop negative views of the role of family relationships. He felt little rapport with either his mother, who was primarily concerned with acceptance in the bourgeois society of Rome, or his father, an atheist who lived a solitary existence and seldom spoke to his children. He was unhappy and bored living at home and rejected the family values that he later described as being dominated by prudence, self-interest, ignorance, and hedonism.
However, Moravia took full advantage of the two opportunities available to him. As a child, he developed impressive skill in languages. His mother planned a future career in diplomatic service for him and so engaged a succession of foreign governesses. He learned to speak French fluently before learning Italian, later adding English and German. Moravia also had access to his father’s library, from which he read a rich selection of drama, especially works by Carlo Goldoni, Molière, Jean Racine, and William Shakespeare. Later he systematically read a succession of great authors, discovering two lifelong favorites in Fyodor...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Alberto Pincherle Moravia, son of Carlo and Teresa de Marsanich Moravia, was born in Rome, Italy, on November 28, 1907. His Jewish father was an architect, and his Catholic mother was a Dalmatian countess. Hence, he grew up in an affluent and cultured family that kept a box at the opera and retained a chauffeur. Moravia’s home life was not happy, though, and his descriptions of bourgeois family conflicts in his fiction mirror his own childhood.
One early escape was storytelling. In 1937, he recalled that as a child,I would go off into the fields, or stretch myself out on a couch in a room of the summer villa, and talk to myself. I cannot remember the plots of these solitary narratives; I think they were adventures, dangerous episodes, violent and improbable incidents; I do remember very well, however, that I took up the thread of the story every day at the precise point where I had left it the day before.
At sixteen, tuberculosis of the bone forced him to leave school, and he spent the next several years in bed. A later short story, “Inverno di malato,” written in 1930, draws upon his experiences in a sanatorium, and the protagonist, Girolamo, suffers, like his creator, from tuberculosis of the bone. During this long convalescence, Moravia read extensively, and, according to his essay of 1945 “Ricordo degli Indifferenti” (“Recalling Time of Indifference”), he was also already demonstrating his writing fluency. In October, 1925, he began The Indifferent Ones; by the time he finished the work, he had, in addition, written poems, short stories, and two other novels. “Cortigiana stanca,” his first publication, appeared in French in the avant-garde magazine ’900 in 1927. At the time, his sex-obsessed stories and the novel The Indifferent Ones were considered pornographic, so much so that some critics insist “Moravia” is a pseudonym Alberto Pincherle assumed after the clamorous—and scandalized—reception of the novel, which made his reputation as a leading Italian writer. Although having no basis in fact, this interpretation gives a good indication of the novel’s impact. In fact, much...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Alberto Pincherle Moravia was born in Rome on November 28, 1907. His father, Carlo Pincherle Moravia, was a successful architect in Rome. A native of Venice, he had been reared in a family of Jewish heritage, though—as Moravia later described him—he did not practice that or any other faith. Moravia’s mother, Teresa de Marsanich, reared in Ancona, carried the title of countess, her family being of Dalmatian noble extraction. Along with his brother and his two sisters, Moravia was reared in his mother’s faith, Roman Catholicism.
It is commonly believed that Moravia’s real name is Alberto Pincherle and that the name with which he signed his work, Alberto Moravia, is a pseudonym. According to Moravia himself, this is not true. In an interview given to Luciano Rebay in 1968 and later confirmed in a letter, Moravia explained that his legal name, as it appears on his birth certificate, passport, and other official documents, is Alberto Pincherle Moravia.
Moravia’s family was fairly affluent, belonging to the upper middle class. His family had high expectations for Moravia, planning for him from childhood a career in the diplomatic service. Toward this end, Moravia was tutored in French, English, and German. At the age of nine, however, he was stricken with tubercular osteomyelitis, which affected his legs and gradually worsened until he was unable to walk. First stricken with the disease in 1916, Moravia continued to suffer its effects for almost ten years. For a time, he continued in school, managing to complete his elementary education, but as his condition worsened and he became increasingly bedridden, he was forced to abandon his formal education, as well as his parents’ plans for a career in the diplomatic service. In 1923, when Moravia was sixteen years old, a new cure was tried, and he was sent to the Istituto Codivilla, a sanatorium at Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian Alps. Finally, in 1925, Moravia was pronounced cured and was sent for a period of rest to Bressanone, near Bolzano on the Austrian border. It was there that he began to write The Time of Indifference, his first novel, which was published four years later.
In 1927, Moravia’s first published story, “Il cortigiana stanca” (“Tired Courtesan”), appeared in 900, an Italian avant-garde review that was published in French. Later that same year, and in the years that followed, stories in Italian appeared with increasing frequency.
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Alberto Pincherle Moravia (moh-RAH-vyah) was baptized in the Catholic religion of his mother, although his father was Jewish by origin. At a very early age, Alberto was stricken by tubercular osteomyelitis, and he remained bedridden for long periods during his childhood. Illness did not prevent him from exploring the world of fiction and creativity, however, and he began writing his first published work, The Time of Indifference, when he was only eighteen years old. With its success, he became one of Italy’s leading literary figures. By 1930, Moravia was sufficiently cured to begin to travel widely, first in Europe and eventually—as a foreign correspondent for at least two different Italian newspapers—in the United States and China. By 1935, the year in which his second novel, The Wheel of Fortune, appeared, his reputation as a writer was established enough for Columbia University to present him with an award and to host a series of his lectures on contemporary Italian authors. When he returned to Italy in 1936, however, he discovered that Benito Mussolini’s government had put his work on an official blacklist.
It is not immediately clear why Moravia’s work was censored in this fashion. Part of the reason, no doubt, had to do with the fact that his themes, particularly in his early works, explore the moral dislocation of the Italian bourgeoisie,...
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