I finished two books in April, but didn’t write a review of either of them.
Alberto Moravia, Boredom—
Dino is a wealthy Italian man who lives in an artist’s flat, an artist who doesn’t paint. He loathes his mother’s society, but relies on her money for survival. He has also fallen for his model, the model and mistress of his late neighbor, a middle class man estranged from his family. He craves possession of this model, but her disinterest in money and class intrigues him and makes her impossible for him to actually get. To make matters worse, the tighter he clings to her, the more she slips away.
Moravia’s themes, boredom, desire, etc, are ones that I have enjoyed in other books, but this one didn’t do it for me. The protagonist, Dino, is a pompous, spoiled brat who rejects his mother’s villa ostensibly because he finds the money distasteful, but more because his mother’s sole obsession is the cost rather than the thing. He chafes when reminded that he lives on her donations, which she uses to control him much as he tries to control his mistress. He is more hipster than are hipsters and utterly unaware of his surroundings, petulant and obsessive as a child. There is a good chance that this is exactly what Moravia was going for, but I couldn’t stand Dino and therefore didn’t love the book.
Ernest Hemingway, Farewell to Arms—
Hemingway’s novel about World War One on the Italian front sticks to the Hemingway schtick–war, courage, brave, bear-liquor, war-wound, jaundice, death, etc. It was a good both, but after other, later, novels, Farewell came across shallow, with none of the characters as fleshed out as they do in other books. I was less persuaded by the romance, less intrigued by the terse-yet-friendly masculinity. I enjoyed the story and was glad to have read the book for completion’s sake, but it was just not on par with the Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, or To Have and Have Not. Farewell, for me, was more on par with The Garden of Eden, but for v. different reasons since the latter passed in spades where former fell short.
It is a challenging point of the semester as things come due and exams to mark are pile up. I am also neck-deep in dissertation writing. I am doing my best to write and read a little bit beyond that, though, since I believe it makes me a more rounded reading and person and it helps keep me sane. To that end, I am enjoying Albert Cossery’s Proud Beggars, but it is not as good as The Jokers.