Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Rome. Capital and largest city in Italy. Cesira goes there from her girlhood home in the mountainous region of Ciociaria after her marriage to a much older husband who owns both a small shop and an apartment in Trastevere in Vicolo del Cinque. The city forces Cesira to adapt to a different way of life from her rural upbringing and provides Alberto Moravia with a base against which he can later contrast the experiences of Cesira and her daughter in the country.

After the death of her husband, Cesira is content with her small shop, her tidy flat, and raising her teenage daughter. When the war comes she initially prospers by selling black market goods she acquires from peasant farmers outside Rome. In spite of all the changes in her life, Cesira remains very much the same person she has always been until she confronts the war at first hand in the mountains after fleeing Rome to return to her family home at Vallecorsa with her daughter, Rosetta.


Sant’Eufemia. Small village high in the mountains where Cesira and Rosetta take what they believe will be only temporary lodgings in a crude lean-to with a peasant family. There, amid the ramshackle huts and rude life of the peasants, Cesira rediscovers the customs of her childhood, and her daughter is subjected for the first time to the hardships of country living, with its attendant poverty, isolation, and fears.

Moravia uses the nine months...

(The entire section is 604 words.)

Two Women Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Cottrell, Jane. Alberto Moravia. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1974. Overall survey of the work up to that date. At times cursory, and particularly so in its proclamations about what women are and what they are not and why Rosetta and Cesira cannot be authentic depictions.

Dego, Giuliano. Moravia. Edinburgh, Scotland: Oliver & Boyd, 1966. Thorough study of Moravia’s output that proves of use with respect to Two Women.

Heiney, Donald. Three Italian Novelists. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968. Studies of Cesare Pavese, Elio Vittorini, and Moravia. Focuses on the technical aspects of novel writing and the political and psychosocial aspects of the three novelists’ works.

Lewis, R. W. B. “Alberto Moravia: Eros and Existence.” In The Picaresque Saint. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1949. Worth looking at for Lewis’ analysis of Moravia’s use of sexual encounters as provinggrounds of the existential.

Ross, Joan, and Donald Freed. The Existentialism of Alberto Moravia. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1972. Good attempt to place Moravia’s writings in relation to existentialism.