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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