• Repressed Memory and Traumatic History in Alberto Moravia's The Woman of Rome

    Charles L. Leavitt IV (see profile)
    LLC 20th- and 21st-Century Italian
    Italian literature, Twentieth century, Prostitution, History, Comparative literature, Literature, Modern
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    20th-century Italian literature, History of prostitution, Modern Italian literature
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    In composing The Woman of Rome (La Romana, 1948), I argue in this chapter, Moravia was attempting to redress the twinned traumas of national history and personal memory. The novel's protagonist, a Roman prostitute, serves as the symbolic incarnation of-as well as the developing resistance to-bourgeois corruption and Fascist coercion. An intricate intertextuality facilitates this social critique, allowing Moravia not only to reclaim his repressed memory but also to redeem it, reexamining his own experience from the prostitute's perspective. Moravia imbued his protagonist with a host of figurative associations that lent her narrative-and her narrating voice-a profoundly transformative significance. Through her, he not only reclaimed his repressed memory but also revealed the structures of bourgeois social domination and bourgeois morality. More significantly, he explored the power of literary symbolism to transcend those structures, and to dismantle them. As the subjective center of his fiction, and as the symbolic embodiment of the confluence between his remembered encounter and his intertextual exploration, the protagonist of The Woman of Rome can be said to signify Moravia's renewed commitment to unseating the established order through the unfettered representation of uncensored reality.
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    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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