Friday 15 April 2016

In the wakeful middle of the night I'm reading Moravia again. Intense short bursts, maybe fifteen minutes. For fifteen minutes I'm a shy law student in a pensione in Rome, or a boy at a sanatorium trying to be bad.  I've become accustomed to Italy in the forties and fifties, the Italy that predates my first visits in the sixties, during my dreamy adolescence. Italy allows a dreamer to flourish, sustains her during winters further north where she can read Moravia, and Bassani, and Svevo in almost total ignorance of the history or the politics, with just the jewishness, the obscure threat and the sunlight, the remote thud of a tennis ball (Bassani), the saturation of an awkward youth (Moravia), the last cigarette (Svevo). In their author pictures they look very similar. Dark hair brushed back. Intensity and formality meet seduction. I was never convinced by Italian men, even during the dreamy parts of my adolescence.

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