EROTIC TALES by Alberto Moravia


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Moravia's late work, swollen and burdened with the duality of sex and evil (in particular, political terrorism), suffers from its length; here, in shorter form, the same concerns seem a little more graceful, fleeter--if no less obvious and bascially thin. Some of what's here is amorous vignette, … la Boccaccio: ""My Daughter Is Named Giulia, Too,"" or ""To The Unknown God""--a nurse with a need to minister extraordinarily, a confession liberally salted with Moravia's favorite flavor in most of the pieces here: a theological parallel. In ""The Devil Can't Save The World,"" Mephisto appears in the guise of a woman in order to tempt a great nuclear scientist who has a taste for pedophilia; the message (that mere sex is powerless against the far greater sin of unchecked knowledge) is piquant enough--but labored. Two others of the more focused stories do stand out: ""The Thing""a--humid piece of vintage Moravia, the triangular relationship of three lesbians in a cruel and shocking story involving bestiality; and ""The Belt""--a study in the desperation for security that underlies a woman's developing taste for sadomasochism. Both pieces are sedulously drawn portraits of obsession, relatively free of the tendentious correspondences--sex = evil--that usually mar Moravia's stories by their failure to resonate. The translation, though, is no boon: Moravia reads as a stylist even wearier than he really is, with his patented European jaundice and exhaustion; here he seems utterly gray.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1985
ISBN: 0374526516
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux