The Conformist
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The Conformist

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  777 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Secrecy and Silenceare second nature to Marcello Clerici, the hero of The Conformist, a book which made Alberto Moravia one of the world's most read postwar writers. Clerici is a man with everything under control - a wife who loves him, colleagues who respect him, the hidden power that comes with his secret work for the Italian political police during the Mussolini years....more
ebook, 375 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Steerforth (first published 1951)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,595)
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Ian Paganus
A Psychological Thriller

Some of my favourite films explore how people have dealt with life under Fascism or Communism:

* Istvan Szabo’s "Mephisto" (Germany);

* Ingmar Bergman’s "The Serpent’s Egg" (Sweden);

* Bernardo Bertolucci’s "The Conformist" (Italy);

* Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s "The Lives of Others" (Germany).

Not only do they help understand the relationship of an individual to an authoritarian regime, but they also explore existentialist issues that became more pressing in the con...more
Kimley
The obsession with normalcy was perhaps the greatest bane of the 20th century. As the world became smaller and vastly diverse people began to mix more and more, people became overly concerned with this idea of being "normal" - wearing the same clothes, living in similarly furnished homes, even smoking the same brand of cigarettes all of which bring the protagonist of this particular story a feeling of great relief that he is "normal" - that is until we see the devastation that "normal" brings ab...more
Adam
A macabre bildungsroman of man who realizes in early childhood that life is con; a troubling portrait a lá Camus or Dostoeyvsky. Spare prose but a rich text filled with doublings and odd encounters all filtered through Marcello’s (the narrator and titular character) disturbed viewpoint. An enigmatic and sudden ending leaves many questions. The amount of questions and concerns this book still raises illustrates why Moravia doesn’t consider this merely an Anti-fascism book or label it with any oth...more
matt

Powerful. Cold but with a glassy poetic feeling for the distances between the main character, the narrator, and the rest of the world. Tense and gripping and with an eerie stillness which really adds to the effect. Very Camus-esque, (Camusian?), very modernist, very severely seen work of art.

I'm not quite sure whether to rank it as better or worse than the movie, because Bertollucci was rather faithful to the plot, but even so they do seem to branch out in distinctly different dimensions. The e...more
Tosh
I read this for Kimley's film group, and it's one fantastic can't put down novel. Which is typical Alberto Moravia when you come to think of it.

In a nutshell I think the book is about the psychological make-up of a typical Fascist. Italian style of course! On one level it's a story about a Govt. official who wants to be normal, whatever that means. I think he realizes that 'normal' is quite ab-normal. But of course he's too late in learning that lesson. Nevertheless a remarkable book, which will...more
Dennis Littrell
Moravia, Alberto The Conformist (1952) *****
One of several brilliant novels by Moravia

The Conformist is a psychologically complex novelistic study of an Italian fascist, although not necessarily a typical fascist, done in an existential style with intense interior monologues and introspection by Alberto Moravia's protagonist, Marcello Clerici.

No doubt Moravia intended Marcello as the conformist, but ironically it is his wife Giulia who nearly always conforms to what is considered normal behavio...more
Xio
I so adore this film I when reading the novel can actually hear the voices of the actors. (or maybe I should stop taking so many psychiatric meds) Terrific story about the neurosis behind the morbid conformist fixation that drives the main character into working within the rising Italian fascist system .
Robert Wechsler
A 4.5. A novel about normalcy, innocence, redemption, justification, eroticism, and alienation from oneself. One is caught up in the world of a protagonist with whom it is hard to sympathize, and yet he is more like oneself than any of us would like to think.

The novel reads like a parable, but it isn’t clear that it is one. It’s a very internal novel full of detailed but often distorted, always personal descriptions of externals. It’s a cross between a nineteenth-century novel and an existential...more
THE
What's not to like about a classic novel set in Rome and Paris with elements of politcal murder and foreign intrique, questions of beauty and love, and buoyant doses of Oedipal anxiety? Moravia portrays Italian Fascism in the Mussolini era with more clarity than many historical studies as he depicts the confusion over the quest for normalcy and the delusions of conformity. Poor Marcello Clerici, our anti-hero, with a lunatic for a father and a wastrel for a mother not only has evil thoughts, but...more
Makenzie
Questo è il terzo libro che ho letto di Moravia (dopo La vita è gioco e La ciociara) e quello che mi è piaciuto di più. Gli altri li avevo trovato per caso, ma un mio amico mi aveva detto que Il conformista è il migliori di Moravia, quindi ho deciso di comprarlo. Sebbene Moravia forse non sia un maestro della sottilezza in quanto alle sue idee (il romanzo è, secondo me, pieno di spiegazioni superflue), ha una certa arte di scegliere i detagli precisi e le immagini giuste. A differenza di La cioc...more
Mogulito
I must admit having seen the movie years ago but recently forgotten much of the details of it, and finding this book, I thought I'd give it a crack whilst I was still hazy.

Of course & obviously, like other books that have been adapted to film, this contains so much more detail about the characters' backgrounds; and studies far deeper the root motivation for Marcello Clerici's internal struggles, specifically.

I found this to be far less political and instead really a study into a man's fear...more
Mark
The author and his translator have created a simple but compelling story in the midst of fascism in Italy. The main character is a flawed member of the government network that is out to destroy its enemies. Parts of the story are farcical and amusing, but overall the story is disturbing because the key themes apply to many aspects of society today. The main character's wife maintains a steadfast and unending loyalty to the fascist regime right to the end. She is constantly enticed by a nice new...more
Ellen
Read this book in the original Italian, while studying the language in college. I really should read it again in English as i don't remember it very well!
Marc J. Miarnau
El llibre, un clàssic italià, narra la història de Marcello, un home obsessionat amb el fet de ser normal y corrent, en una cerca constant d'aquella mediocritat que l'acostaria a la resta de la humanitat. Això el porta a una vida amarga, melancòlica i trista com a feixista durant els anys de Mussolini.

Un relat, el de Moravia, carregat d'angoixa, que enganxa al lector i l'apropa a aquest Marcello, un desgraciat de cap a peus, que passa per la vida com volent fugir de sí mateix i de la seva anorm...more
Pedro Caldas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Camille Mccarthy
After having watched the movie for Italian class, I decided to read the book in order to compare the two and write an essay on it for class. It was definitely worth reading the book because there are a few interesting differences between the movie and the book, even though a lot of the details and especially the dialogue are the same.
I am also glad I read the book because in reading the book you gain a lot more insight into Marcello's character and his family history, and you get to know a li...more
Stephen
For years I've been a huge fan of Bertolucci's film adaptation of The Conformist, and am now a huge fan of Moravia's book that inspired it.

I'm not sure I can recall ever reading a piece of "literature" that I would also qualify as a page-turner (with no offense meant to either category).

An unmistakable sign that a book is good, in my opinion: I missed my train stop one evening while reading, so engaged was I in this masterful probing of an ordinary but psychologically tormented man hellbent on a...more
Fernando
Una novela sutil y compleja que examina los vìnculos entre el sexo y el poder, la aberración de pretenderse, construirse y entenderse como "normal" y el proceso de autodestrucción de la culpa. Marcello Clerici se une al fascismo por indiferencia y aburrimiento, no por auténtica convicción. A través de su carrera nota cómo, en realidad, el resto de los fascistas se unen por oportunismo, aunque sea una oportunidad que, al final, resulta letal. Como los otros héroes de Moravia, es pasivo, incapaz d...more
Christopher
I enjoyed this book but, much to my surprise, not nearly as much as the film made from it (by Bernardo Bertolucci in 1970). Moravia consistently tells us what the main character is feeling and thinking, and I preferred the more oblique approach of the later movie, as the well as its fractured chronology (the book plays it straight). Still, it remains a highly creative look at the root causes and consequences of conformity and fascism.
Ally
An intense and profound story of one man's fruitless quest for normality. Moravia casts a bright light into the darkest corners of not only the human mind and our obsessions but also into how those obsessions mold our political life. Stellar writing and perfectly flawed characters flesh out this gripping read.
Bandini
La vita di Marcello, personaggio che considera l'omologazione un valore e che si trova a prendere parte dalla parte sbagliata ad un'epoca storica travagliata, è in realtà un saggio sulla matematica dell'animo umano (tutto quadra) ed allo stesso tempo un racconto sulla determinazione dell'agire (tutti i personaggi che vi figurano, a loro modo anche i coniugi Quadri, stretti tra i loro alti ideali e il quotidiano e umano vivere, sono stressati). Marcello ha avuto una consapevole non-vita, soggioga...more
Di
I read this book because I have been studying Italian films and the film of this novel was listed for viewing. I found the book quite unconvincing in its portrayal of a typical Italian fascist. Moravia insisted too much that the character's actions were dictated by his sexually repressed personality. Utimately the character was a pawn to Moravia's thesis rather than a convincing human character. The film was much better than the novel but it still suffered from the problem the reader/viewer has...more
Maddy
While reading it I was taken by it but a few days later I am less enthused. There is something very tight and contolled about Moravia's language, which needless to say is reflected in the character. I remember seeing the film adaptation years ago and would half remember it while reading the book. My copy is a fifty year old hardcover that I bought for 3 dollars. Most of the chapters ended with a door closing or someone leaving one space for another. I wonder if my fondness for the content being...more
Gavin
I do believe that this is one book where an awful lot is lost in translation. Either that, or the author really wanted to stress (on nearly every page) the fact that his protagonist is desperately trying to conform to societal norms. For that reason it gets marked down, and also because the central action is rather too plodding. That may also be the translation.

Not one I'd be likely to read again. Probably wouldn't have read it at all if a friend hadn't lent it to me insisting I should read it.
Kris Fernandez-everett
really did enjoy this book -- only one small argument about the plot twist toward the ending (won't reveal, because spoilers are evil) but thematically spot on... written incredibly well (well, translated incredibly well -- i read in english, not italian) in exploring themes of both the comfort and perils of conformity and the ultimate pointlessness of all of it... yes, it's nihilistic without a happy ending, but so too was fascism, about which this novel is a commentary... recommended...
Wayne
This wasn't a bad book but definitely a case where the (great) film was better than the book. Some of the childhood flashbacks in the movie which are brief glimpses become a slog in the book. The representation of repressed homosexuality giving birth to fascist tendencies in the book was less subtly drawn than in the film. It felt like a clunky case of mid-century armchair psychologist, especially compared to some of Moravia's other characters.
lisa_emily
Not as good at Contempt, yet Moravia's writing is clear and hard and tinged with a dark emotional complexity. I think Moravia is one of the better writers I've discovered this year. The main character in The COnformist is not hateful, but does despicable things. There is a psychological logic to Clerici's actions, yet it is frustrating that he cannot see other alternatives to his interpretations.
Jitu Rajgor
Started 19th October 2012
6th Jan 2013, just completed it. Wondered if it was really written by Moravia. No usual sparks of Moravia's writing, may be a weak translation.I missed long,deep,meaningful dialogue between characters usually Moravia had expertized in.Perhaps the subject was more based on 'politics' than 'human relationship' any way he never disappoints reader.I recommend.
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Around the World ...: Kris recommends: Alberto Moravia 3 12 Nov 07, 2011 09:40AM  
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Alberto Moravia, born Alberto Pincherle was one of the leading Italian novelists of the twentieth century whose novels explore matters of modern sexuality, social alienation, and existentialism.
More about Alberto Moravia...
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