Books: One Fascist

THE CONFORMIST (376 pp.)—Alberto Moravia — Farrar, Straus & Young ($3.50).

One of the best writers in the world today is a 43-year-old Italian named Alberto Moravia. The U.S. knows him for three books: The Woman of Rome, a realistic portrait of a prostitute, Two Adolescents, in which Moravia writes about the hazards of growing up, and Conjugal Love, a cameo masterpiece about a marriage.

Moravia's new novel unravels the character of a Fascist—a weak-kneed fellow named Marcello whose troubles all seem to stem from a cruel streak and a wish to be "normal,"...

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