Alberto Moravia is something of a forgotten figure now. Yet when he died, in 1990, he was often considered to have been one of Italy’s leading novelists of the twentieth century. In a review of the posthumously published draft of a novel Moravia had been working on since 1950, Michael P. McDonald suggests that the authors’s reluctance to complete and publish his novel at the time was provoked by the fierce reception given to his study of political disaffection Il conformista when it was published in 1951.
Adrian Lyttelton reviews a major new history of Italy by Christopher Duggan. In the wake of the prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s recent decision to hold a Cabinet meeting in Naples to mark the crisis in public services, it is salutary to be reminded of the North–South divide, which remains so intractable a problem. Lyttelton looks closely at the “anti-Southern rhetoric” of Umberto Bossi’s Northern League.
James Owen casts an eye on an earlier period of Italian history in a review of Hugh Bicheno’s portrait of the Renaissance “double-dealer” Sigismondo Malatesta, who was charged with necrophilia and sodomizing his own children, but who is remembered in stone on the cathedral at Rimini. Peter Hainsworth examines the poems of Michelangelo (of which there are more than 300) and argues that he is “not primarily a visual poet”, although his poetry is ultimately more one of cose than of parole.
Fans of Michael Chabon’s fiction will not be surprised that the novelist has written a book-length study of the comic strip. Michael Saler reviews two books on the history of American comics, revealing that they were once subjected to censorship calls and public burnings and were seen, like rap music today, as the source of every modern moral ill.
Peter Holland has a sceptical look at works attributed to the Second Duke of Buckingham, while Paul Allen charts the critic Michael Billington’s theatre trip from Leamington to the West End.