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Contempt (1954)

by Alberto Moravia

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7641122,415 (3.61)28
Obsessive and confessional, sifting over every action and thought, Contempt is a tale about the precarious nature of love and integrity; a study of the limits of our subjective nature and of storytelling itself. It was adapted for the screen by Jean-Luc Godard in 1963.
  1. 20
    The Tunnel by Ernesto Sábato (giovannigf)
    giovannigf: Looking for pseudo-existentialist first-person narratives from paranoid misogynists consumed by jealousy? This is your lucky day! I'd recommend Sabato's novel over Moravia's because it's mercifully brief, but you should save yourself the grief and read Tolstoy's masterful "The Kreutzer Sonata" instead.… (more)
  2. 10
    Boredom by Alberto Moravia (longway)
  3. 00
    Conjugal Love by Alberto Moravia (longway)
  4. 00
    A Posthumous Confession by Marcellus Emants (giovannigf)
    giovannigf: Both novels are first-hand accounts by tortured narrators consumed by self-hatred and jealousy, and both share existentialist themes.

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» See also 28 mentions

English (9)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
controllare edizione cartacea, copertina non corrisponde
  perseveranza | Feb 19, 2021 |
An overbearing psychological first-person narrative where the protagonist's situation is compared obscurely to the relationship between Odysseus and Penelope. Have I read this before? Yes, I have: Bernhard Schlink uses a similar device in Homecoming. The finale is simultaneously dark and reassuring.

Thinly plotted as it is, I can't say I enjoyed Contempt. There is thinking, then some more thinking, then some thinking about thinking. The "feature" of this novel is the super-analytical mind of a writer whose relationships with his wife and work overlap and disintegrate. But it felt more a study of neurosis and depression; which, from a first-hand perspective, isn't comfortable reading. ( )
  jigarpatel | Jan 30, 2020 |
Alberto Moravia effortlessly makes the reader feel for characters that have a certain dislikeable streak to them... ( )
  hummingquill | Jul 24, 2019 |
Hm. Not sure if l liked it or not. A bit longwinded at times. Good ending though ( )
  kakadoo202 | Mar 7, 2018 |
I never really got into this while I was reading it, but it's stuck in my head. Lots of these kind of a little bit existentialist books do that, I suppose. Good enough that I want to see the movie and read 'Boredom,' which might be a little less, well, boring. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Moravia, Albertoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davidson, AngusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klinkert-Pötters Vos, J.H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laake, Marieke vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mercadal, EnriqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nurmela, TaunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poncet, ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rismondo, PieroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Székely, ÉvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vallverdú, FrancescTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vuosalmi, KaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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During the first two years of our married life my relations with my wife were, I can now assert, perfect.
By which I mean to say that, in those two years, a complete, profound harmony of the senses was accompanied by a kind of numbness - or should I say silence? - of the mind which, in such circumstances, causes an entire suspension of judgment and looks only to love for any estimate of the beloved person.
The less one notices happiness, the greater it is. It may seem strange, but in those two years I sometimes thought I was actually bored. Certainly, at the time, I did not realize that I was happy. It seemed to me that I was doing what everyone did - loving my wife and being loved by her; and this love of ours seemed to me an ordinary, normal fact, or rather, to be in no way precious - just like the air one breathes, and there's plenty of it and it become precious only when it begins to run short.
I began therefore to live like one who carries within him the infirmity of an impending disease but cannot make up his mind to go to the doctor; in other words, I tried not to reflect too much either upon Emilia's demeanor towards me, or upon my work.
Why did Emilia no longer love me, and how had she arrived at this state of indifference? With a feeling of anguish in my heart, I foresaw that this first general conclusion, already so painful, would demand an infinite number of further, minor proofs before I became completely convinced - proofs which, just because they were of lesser importance, would be more concrete and, if possible, still more painful. I was, in fact, now convinced that Emilia could no longer love me; but I did not know either why or how this had come about; and in order to be entirely persuaded of it I must have an explanation with her, I must seek out and examine, I must plunge the thin, ruthless blade of investigation into the would which, hitherto, I had exerted myself to ignore.
She would have replied that it was not true, and - quite probably - she would have reminded me, with crude technical precision, or certain transports of sensuality on her own side, in which everything was included - skill, pursuit of pleasure, violent excitement, erotic fury - everything except tenderness and the indescribable abandonment of true surrender; and I should not have known what to say to this; and, into the bargain, I should have offended her with that insulting comparison, and thus have put myself in the wrong.
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Obsessive and confessional, sifting over every action and thought, Contempt is a tale about the precarious nature of love and integrity; a study of the limits of our subjective nature and of storytelling itself. It was adapted for the screen by Jean-Luc Godard in 1963.

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Average: (3.61)
2 11
2.5 2
3 29
3.5 10
4 40
4.5 6
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NYRB Classics

2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590171225, 1590174844


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