by Alberto Moravia
Translated by William Weaver Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 297pages $14.50
Let the reader beware; the canny old master of Italian fiction has once again pulled a fast one. Of Alberto Moravia's five covertly political novels of the past three decades, 1934 is the most disguised. His previous novel, Time of Desecration (1980), was tricky enough; masquerading as a manual of kinky sex, it was, in fact, a riveting case history of the psychopathology of terrorism. In 1934, Moravia has obscured his true intentions by adopting the histrionic manner and high-flown diction of German romanticism. The effect is bizarre...