Troy's Reviews > The Empty Canvas

The Empty Canvas by Alberto Moravia
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bookshelves: read-in-2009, nyrb-books

Yet another "existential" novel about a disaffected rich prick going through an existential crisis. Like Sartre's protagonist in Nausea or Huysmans' Against Nature , the protagonist here is a spoiled twit who feels disconnected with the world, but he calls it "boredom." Fair enough.

Our poor little rich boy has stopped painting (it's boring) and really isn't doing much other than spying on his neighbors (but only half-heartedly since that's also boring).

Enter one 17 year old vamp who, except for sex, is even more disconnected than he is, but has none of his intellectual curiosity (but even then, he's only interested in himself and his boredom, not in the rest of the world). He decides to dump her (she's boring) but she starts acting weird which annoys the shit out of our protagonist because he thought he, like, totally possessed her, but now she's acting on her own. So he becomes obsessed and no longer bored and realizes that she is a stand in for the mystery and abject otherness of the world. He decides he must possess her and then, and only then, can he dump her (because she's boring). But until he possesses her, she's not boring.

Like any good existential novel, there is no real ending. I mean, he does half-heartedly try to kill himself, and very briefly attempts to kill her, but only barely. And he's still bored at the end, but not as much.

Oh yeah, I forgot: he hates his mother because she's rich and is obsessed with money. It is well written and it is compelling, but it drove me insane - which is what it wanted to do.
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Reading Progress

December 26, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
December 27, 2009 – Shelved as: read-in-2009
December 27, 2009 – Shelved as: nyrb-books
December 27, 2009 – Finished Reading

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