Saturday, May 23, 2015

Contempt Part I

I have read the first seven chapters and I am quite amazed at how well Moravia can capture the struggles of a married man trying to prove to himself that his wife no longer loves him.
"Look and you shall find" seems to be the motto of these chapters. If you are not careful, a single gesture can ruin your relationship. Still, if you knew what gesture not to make, what questions not to ask, would you still decide to go on doing what you're not supposed to do for your own good?
The main character asks a few serious questions about relationships and your supposed 'better half'. We go from defects that seem lovable to suspicion, pain, revolt and remorse, and we still question, at the end of the 7th chapter if she has been unfaithful to him.
These chapters made me ask myself the serious questions that the male charater puts forward: is it true that the moment we start judging, we cease to love? And if we don't judge, should we tolerate everything? How important are money and physical comfort in a relationship?

7 comments:

Frances said...

I also like how his contempt for her is evident from the start. He considers her as inferior in culture and breeding and congratulates himself for bringing her out of this. Honestly, I was never sure why he loved her and I'm not confidant that he could define that either. Love as a malady! :)

Richard said...

Suffice it to say that the issue of money and physical comfort gets more play as the novel progresses just as it was an ongoing concern in Italian neorealist films of the same period. Still, it's sometimes hard to know how much of the concern was Riccardo's and not Emilia's since all our information is filtered through the male first-person narrator. Anyway, thanks for reading along with us, Ally!

Bellezza Mjs said...

I hauled myself through a marathon reading of this today, Memorial Day in America. It brought back lots of thoughts about my first marriage, as I said on Frances' blog, and your question of "Is it true that the moment we start judging, we cease to love?" For me, judging in general, and unrealistic expectations in particular, are never part of a successful relationship. I have had to lay them down entirely, and still frequently, even with my beloved son.

I look forward to your thoughts on this book when you finish. I know I will be thinking of it for a long time.

Ally said...

Valid point, Richard! :) I haven't finished reading the novel, I still have 40 pages to go, since Monday was not a day off here and I worked from 8 am to 8 pm, but I am so happy I joined you all :)

Ally said...

Meredith, I have previously read books, mainly self help, which stated this truth, so I am somehow aware of judging or not judging in a relationship. Still, I believe in takes two to not judge for a happy, healthy relationship, and even if I haven't finished the novel, I believe the two protagonists are not the case...

Scott W. said...

Riccardo seems to hapless and unreliable that he just keeps receding from our faith that he's going to figure out what went wrong to evoke Emelia's contempt. It's no so much a single gesture as a snowballing accumulation of them - his obliviousness to Battista's lascivious intentions (and to Emelia's evident discomfort), his chauvinistic attitudes towards women, his focus on material well-being and monetary concerns, his lack of courage as an artist. And then halfway through he finally tells us about his dalliance with a typist (or rather, another typist). Contempt really is a novel that scrapes bare the dysfunction in a marriage.

Ally said...

Thank you for passing by, Scott! What a great insight into the novel. The movie, unlike the novel, overtly shows Riccardo's preference for other women...