THE LIE by Alberto Moravia


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With the publication of The Time of Indifference over thirty years ago, the young Moravia became a novelist of international importance. Since then he has been prolifically developing his sexual analysis of contemporary society in a series of tales increasingly marked by absorption in existential matters with humanist overtones. The Lie, his latest offering, is similar in technique and tone to A Ghost at Noon and The Empty Canvas, though considerably more intellectually challenging than either. It is an ambitious, deliberately austere account of a middle-aged man's reflections on his involvement, or lack of involvement, with a wife he once loved, and a step-daughter to whom he is erotically drawn, but with whom no consummation is possible. In short, another Moravian study in ineffectuality, using the device of the diary to heighten the hero's sense of isolation, as well as his obsessive need to explore philosophical opposites: the Self and the Other, authenticity and invention, spontaneity and self-consciousness. Here then is the most Sartrean of Moravia's novels, and the most sophisticated, but hardly the most readable. It is another indication of a disturbing trend in European fiction, whereby an ""action"" is described from many angles all centered in the perceptions of one observer, and the very palpable problem of human relatedness- social or psychological- is stripped of any dramatic directness. That The Lie, however ""abstract,"" should, at its best, be oddly hypnotic, is a measure of Moravia's mastery over the driest of subject matter.

Pub Date: June 24th, 1966
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux