Kevin Rabalais is the author of The Landscape of Desire.
For much of the 20th century, Alberto Moravia’s name was a byword for sexy sophistication. Moravia titillated readers with his highly charged sexual and psychological tales, among them Conjugal Love, The Woman of Rome, The Voyeur and Boredom.
Today, the Roman author remains better known among cineastes than readers. Some of cinema’s greatest names adapted his most popular work: Vittorio De Sica (Two Women, 1960), Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist, 1970) and Jean-Luc Godard (Contempt, 1963). Contempt includes a lengthy scene with a nude, supine Brigitte Bardot that flustered a generation of moviegoers and heightened Moravia’s aura as a provocateur. Behind the façade, however, Moravia’s fiction unearths the ways in which authoritarianism corrodes human dignity.