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Secrecy and Silence are second nature to Marcello Clerici, the hero of The Conformist, a book which made Alberto Moravia one of the world's most read postwar writers. Clerici is a man with everything under control - a wife who loves him, colleagues who respect him, the hidden power that comes with his secret work for the Italian political police during the Mussolini years. But then he is assigned to kill his former professor, now in exile, to demonstrate his loyalty to the Fascist state, and falls in love with a strange, compelling woman; his life is torn open - and with it the corrupt heart of Fascism. Moravia equates the rise of Italian Fascism with the psychological needs of his protagonist for whom conformity becomes an obsession in a life that has included parental neglect, an oddly self-conscious desire to engage in cruel acts, and a type of male beauty which, to Clerici's great distress, other men find attractive.
articles and headlines about it were much reduced, undoubtedly a sign that the investigation had not made much progress. A couple of left-wing French papers were going over the tale of the crime one more time, dwelling on their interpretations of some of its strangest or most significant details: Quadri knifed to death in the thick of the woods; his wife, instead, struck by three pistol bullets at the edge of the road and then dragged, already dead, to lie beside her husband; the car taken into
fate.” She answered, lightly stroking his hair, “I don’t believe in fate. It was really because I loved you … if I hadn’t loved you, who knows, maybe I wouldn’t have treated her so badly, and she wouldn’t have gone and she wouldn’t be dead. What does fate have to do with it?” Marcello recalled Lino, the primary cause of all the vicissitudes of his life, and explained thoughtfully, “When you say ‘fate’ you’re saying all these things, as well, love and all the rest of it. You couldn’t have not
Marcello looked and saw that a lot of people were running back and forth across the great razed field, waving their arms. At the same time, strange sight in the dazzling light of the summer sun, a sharp, red, almost smokeless tongue of flame licked up from one of the hangars. Then another flame burst upwards from the second roof, yet another from the third. The three fires joined and merged into one, which moved violently in all directions while clouds of black smoke drifted to earth, hiding the
passionately, “Do what you think … do what you want with me.” His voice ended in a kind of sing-song, yearning lament. “I warn you, I’m not even going to look at you,” Marcello informed him for the last time. He saw Lino make a gesture he didn’t understand, but that seemed one of desperate assent. Then the car moved away, distancing itself slowly in the direction of the avenue. 3 EVERY MORNING MARCELLO was awakened at a fixed hour by the cook, who felt a particular affection for him. She
useful inasmuch as they were shared with so many others, contributing in some small measure to his similarity to everyone else. Besides, he liked these contacts with the crowd, unpleasant and uncomfortable as they were, and preferred them to contact with individuals; from a crowd, he thought, as he stood on tiptoes on the platform to breathe more freely, he got the comforting sensation of multiple communion, whether it involved being crushed inside a bus or the patriotic enthusiasm of a political