Ice Friday: Moravia on Being Rich

Alberto Moravia’s novel Boredom follows Dino, a struggling artist, in his attempts to escape the burden of his family’s wealth.

I asked: “Well then, are we rich or are we not?” 

For a moment my mother sat silent, looking at me with a strange solemnity. Then, leaning toward me and lowering her voice, she said: “We are not rich, Dino, we are very rich. Thanks to your mother, you are a very rich man.”
“What does ‘very rich’ mean?”

“‘Very rich’ means something more than merely ‘rich’.”

“But less than ‘extremely rich’?”

“Yes, less than ‘extremely rich’.” IMG_4829As I examined the faces of my mother’s guests, I suddenly had a strong feeling that there was not one wrinkle, not one inflection of the voice, not one ripple of laughter,not a single feature, in fact, that was not directly determined by the money which, as the fat old man had said, was represented by the guests in that room, in greater or lesser quantity. Yes, I thought, in that crowd, money had turned into flesh and blood.

The Woman of Rome – Alberto Moravia

Alberto Moravia’s The Woman of Rome offers an almost dispassionate first-person account of a woman who consciously turns to prostitution to find herself. Gina+Lollobrigida+Woman+of+RomeA distant sound in the city or the creaking of some furniture in the room gave me the ludicrous and almost delirious awareness of my existence. I said to myself, “Here I am and I might be elsewhere. I might exist a thousand years ago or in a thousand year’s time. I might be black or old, blonde or short.” I thought how I had come out of endless night and would go on into another endless darkness, and that my brief passing was marked only by absurd and trivial actions. 94eb7017d803afee5b_n3m6iyjoyI then understood that my anguish was caused, not by what I was doing, but more profoundly by the bare fact of being alive, which was neither good nor evil but only painful and without meaning.

How strange to find these words uplifting.