In this set of novellas, a few facts are constant. Sergio is a young intellectual, poor and proud of his new membership in the Communist Party. Maurizio is handsome, rich, successful with women, and morally ambiguous. Sergio’s young, sensual lover becomes collateral damage in the struggle between these two men. All three of these unfinished stories, found packed in a suitcase after Alberto Moravia’s death, share this narrative premise. But from there, each story unfolds in a unique way. The first patiently explores the slow unfurling of Sergio’s resentment toward Maurizio. The second reveals the calculated bargain Maurizio offers in exchange for his conversion to Sergio’s beloved Communism. And the third switches dramatically to the first person, laying bare Sergio’s conflicted soul.
Anyone interested in literature will relish the opportunity to watch Moravia at work, tinkering with his story and working at it from three unique perspectives.
Two Friends by Alberto Moravia is a set of three beautifully written stories, or versions, of Sergio and Maurizio, unfinished works written around 1950 and only discovered in 1996, six years after Moravia’s death. Translated from Italian by Marina Harss, these three tales tell of two men of vastly differing political viewpoints who are both in love with the same woman. Harss provides detailed notes on the original pages of the manuscripts including clues used to constrain the dates of the writing. For the more inquisitive literary anthropologist, the pages also reveal insight into Moravia’s writing methods. Moravia explores three versions of the same story in this trio of drafts, each taking a different approach to illuminating the morals, politics, and friendship of these two divergent souls. Readers will be taken in by the intrigue that flows naturally from reading tales that were not yet complete and watching as Sergio develops a begrudging attitude toward his friend while his friend becomes involved with his lover and as the two negotiate a deal where Maurizio would revise his political views to be in line with Sergio’s. This masterfully crafted set of stories has so much to offer the literary fiction fanatic and I highly recommend Two Friends to readers that want to glimpse into the literary mind Moravia.
I received a complimentary ARC of Two Friends by Alberto Moravia from Other Press. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.