Claudia Moscovici

Advance Praise for The Seducer

 


Advance Praise for my new novel about psychopathic seduction, The Seducer:

Like the best, most delicious novels, Claudia Moscovici’s psychological thriller, The Seducer, grips you in its opening pages and holds you in its addictive clutches straight through to its dramatic, remarkable conclusion. This is a fascinating novel, on every page of which Moscovici’s intimate understanding of the psychology of psychopaths and their victims gleams with a laser’s concentrated brilliance. The result is a narrative that builds with a patient, yet propulsive, force; a narrative whose intensity and suspense, in tandem, leave the reader eager to know, at every step of the way, what happens next? I encourage the reader to start this novel with a full set of nails, because it’s a nail biter in the most literal sense.

Steve Becker, MSW, LCSW LoveFraud.com feature columnist, Expert/Consultant on Narcissism and Psychopathy

What is love in this seductive new novel? Hypnotic attraction or deadly trap? A dream come true or a world filled with obsessions in the absence of genuine feelings? The Seducer probes the chilling depths of alienation and selfishness as the heroine, Ana, is caught in the spider’s web of her narcissistic lover, Michael. No magic, just cruelty. Claudia Moscovici wrote a powerful novel about an unfortunate reality many women face: the unraveling of their romantic dreams as love turns into a cold and calculated game of chess.

Carmen Firan, author of Words and Flesh

The Seducer offers a thrilling look at the most dangerous men out there, that every woman is warned about and many encounter: the psychopathic predator. We’ve seen these men featured in the news for their gruesome crimes. But few would expect them to be the charming, debonair, romantic seducers that love stories are made of. When the heroine of the novel, Ana, met Michael, she was in for the roller-coaster ride of her life. In her exciting second novel, The Seducer, Claudia Moscovici depicts with talent and psychological accuracy the spellbinding power of these charming yet dangerous Don Juans.

D. R. Popa, author of Lady V and Other Stories (Spuyten Duyvil, 2007)

Claudia Moscovici’s new psychological thriller, The Seducer, reminds us of classics like Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, but with a  contemporary twist. The new seducer is a psychopath, a dangerous predator without genuine emotion. And yet, we remain fascinated as he charms two women: one of them utterly dependent, the other seduced but autonomous. The reader’s outrage toward the reprehensible Michael may feel neutralized by the author’s meticulous studies of the psychopath in action and by what I call “ethical irony,” an often hidden moral perspective. Moscovici’s epic of betrayal and self-deception draws the reader into the convoluted mind of sexual predators and their victims. The narrative is bold, vivid and lucid.

Edward K. Kaplan, Brandeis University

You can view The Seducer online on the links below:

Claudia Moscovici, Notablewriters.com


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December 22, 2010 Posted by | abuse, Advance Praise for The Seducer, bitlit, Carmen Firan, Claudia Moscovici, D. R. Popa, domestic abuse, Edward Kaplan, fiction, literary criticism, literary fiction, literature, literature salon, literaturesalon, love story, passion, psychological fiction, psychopath, psychopathy, Radu Popa, social predators, sociopath, sociopathy, Steve Becker | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Advance Praise for The Seducer

The Postromantic Manifesto

Some artistic movements happen organically. The Impressionist and Fauve movements, for example, emerged naturally from the artists’ friendship and practice. The name and the aesthetic philosophy of Impressionism came almost as an afterthought, accidentally. Yet both the name and the concept stuck. An insulting word cast by an art critic about Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise became the seed that eventually gave this group of artists a recognizable image. Other artistic movements happen prescriptively. The Surrealists could not have been what they were without the philosophical structure and sometimes dogmatically narrow focus that the writer André Breton gave to their art. Today movements can come together in virtual space. The Internet connects artists from all corners of the world who would never have met, created together, seen that they share the same vision, become friends. This is how postromanticism happened. Before I met any of the artists, I had written about the aesthetic values contemporary art had lost and should attempt to recapture. I called that aesthetic “postromanticism” and posted it on the internet. Postromanticism as a movement, however, didn’t come into being until 2002, when one artist, the Mexican sculptor Leonardo Pereznieto, saw his art reflected in my words. Since then we have discovered dozens of artists who identify their art with our aesthetic vision. My book, Romanticism and Postromanticism (Lexington Books, hardcover 2007, paperback 2010) introduces some of these artists and the postromantic movement. This brief essay will describe how it originated.

A logical way to explain the nature of postromantic art is to begin with its name. Surely with a name like postromanticism, this movement has something to do with Romantic art. Yet since we put the post- in there, it must also come after Romanticism and be contemporary in some way. Postromanticism is, indeed, primarily, but not exclusively, inspired by nineteenth-century Romantic art. Postromantic painters admire the art of Bouguereau, whose sensual, palpable images of angelic women and shepherd girls were eventually displaced by the less idealized style of the Impressionists. They also find inspiration in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, which shocked Victorian society only to stand the test of time as one of the period’s most interesting artistic legacies. Postromantic sculptors identify with the art of the sculptor Rodin, who revolutionized sculpture as the expression of passion, sensuality and emotion.

When I spoke to a journalist about postromantic art to offer an introduction to one of our collective exhibits, she raised several questions that were crucial to explaining this movement. She asked me: where is the “post” in postromanticism? What makes postromantic art original? What makes this group of individual artists scattered all over the world a movement? Here I will answer these questions.

1. Romantic in Inspiration

It’s relatively easy to point to the continuity between the Romantic and Postromantic movements. Like Romantic artists, the Postromantics capture human passion, sensuality and beauty in their works. They mirror and at the same time idealize visual reality. When you look at the sculptures of Leonardo Pereznieto or Nguyen Tuan, you immediately detect the influence of Rodin. Similarly, Edson Campos’ paintings evoke the sensual purity of Maxfield Parrish and the allegorical narratives and elegance of the Pre-Raphaelites.

The postromantic artists, however, also incorporate other styles of art into their own. Which is why what renders them postromantic is not only the inspiration they find in the Romantic movement, but also the fact that like the Romantics, they privilege the expression of beauty, passion and sensuality in their art.

2. Original in Creation

The issue of originality is rather complicated. One might legitimately ask, how are these artists original when they clearly imitate styles of art that are at least two hundred years old? Moreover, haven’t modern styles of art—abstract expressionism, pop art and postmodern installations, ready-mades, pastiches—displaced the tradition of art that imitates and idealizes reality? To explain why and how postromanticism is original, let’s see first what originality means. What makes art be original? As opposed to new? As opposed to a passing fad? As opposed to something that has mere shock-value?

The whole notion that art had to be above all else original began in the nineteenth-century, with the Impressionist movement. Artists such as Manet and Monet staked the value of art on its ability to go against the norms established by the Academy and the Salons. They presented reality in an entirely new way. As the famous French novelist Emile Zola explained, Manet and the Impressionists set the new standard for what makes art be artistic: originality, which implies not mere newness of style, but a relevant and revolutionary newness. A novelty, in other words, that is important to society. After Impressionism, modern art was perceived as provoking thought rather than only stimulating pleasure or emotion. And so art became, as the critic Arthur Danto puts it, increasingly conceptual.

Modern art—the trends of cubism, abstract expressionism, pop art and postmodern art—stakes its worth on establishing this relevant newness. However, contemporary art that continues the trends that began during the early twentieth-century can no longer take it for granted that they’re being new and relevant to their society. When Duchamp placed his urinal on exhibit in New York during the early twentieth-century, he was certainly shocking, not fully serious and arguably original. But anybody who does postmodern ready-mades and installations today will need to think critically about how his or her art is original. Doing what Duchamp did eighty years ago cannot be assumed to be cutting-edge nowadays. Similarly, when Jackson Pollock splattered paint on a canvas and helped establish New York as the epicenter of international art, he was controversial and original. Now the tradition of abstraction is eighty years old. Any artist who paints in an abstract style cannot automatically present his or her work as original, fresh and modern.

I haven’t yet established the originality of postromantic art, but I have shown that its competitors haven’t either. We’re all in the same boat. In fact, it’s arguably more new and different to find inspiration in styles of art that are three hundred years old than to imitate those that are fifty years old. Modernist trends are much more common and accepted by today’s artistic establishment. Does this mean that we should abandon looking for originality in contemporary art?

Absolutely not. Art today can still be original if it puts a new twist on whatever tradition in the history of art it follows and if it shows that this twist is still interesting and relevant to the society and culture of its own times. For art is even more about the public—promotion, sales, influence, consecration—than it is about the creative process and the individual artists.

To illustrate this point, I’ll borrow an analogy from the novelist and paradox-maker, Borges. Borges once wrote a story about an author, named Pierre Menard, who tried to rewrite the novel Don Quixote in the twentieth-century. Menard reproduced Cervantes’ text word by word. Yet from a certain perspective his novel was entirely different. When you transpose fiction into a whole new context, Borges illustrates, everything changes.

Cervantes was creating a whole new lay Spanish language that was unpretentious and easy to understand for his times. Writing in the same prose several centuries later, Menard, however, sounded stale and quaint to his readers. Furthermore, the social and religious assumptions Cervantes could take for granted, Menard had to learn with great effort by reading biography, history and learning the classical languages. Last but not least, while Cervantes’ novel fit with his context and established the tradition of novel writing, Menard’s Don Quixote stuck out like a sore thumb in the context of twentieth-century literature. By then readers were used to the train of thought style and fragmentation of modern fiction. In this context, a novel like Don Quixote seemed glaringly traditional. Borges’ story shows that art is never just its content, but is in large part a product of its social context. Writing and readers, art and the public, are inextricably intertwined. Which is why one can’t bring back the past exactly as it was even if one reproduces older styles down to their smallest details.

3. Sticking Out

Much like Menard’s twentieth-century version of Don Quixote, postromantic art deliberately sticks out against the background of contemporary art, so heavily dominated by modern and especially postmodern art. But postromantic art is not reactionary. Postromantic artists realize, as Borges’ parable illustrates, that bringing back nineteenth-century Romanticism intact would be an impossible goal. We do not wish to freeze any art movement in time.  Instead, postromantic artists preserve the best of tradition—by placing emphasis upon technical skill, beauty and passion—while still keeping up with the times—by using new media, being sensitive to our contemporary public and creating new styles.

I consider artistic movements to be not only chronological, or following one another in art history and then dissipating and dying forever. Rather, art is also, at the same time, “chronotopic” (to use Bakhtin’s famous formulation): new art is constantly fertilized by various former styles and movements, which it renews for its own context. Which is why you will discover postmodern pastiche mixed with a traditional techniques in the paintings of Edson Campos and David Graux and the use of new media—acrylics and fiber optic illumination—in the Rodin-like sculptures of Leonardo Pereznieto. Not to speak of the exquisite photography of Guido Argentini, which endows modern images with the beauty, immobility, expressivity and endurance of Romantic and modernist sculpture. In this balance between old and new lies our originality. We are new in our unique and harmonious combination of modern and traditional techniques. We are relevant in providing the sophistication critics seek with the beauty, passion and accessibility that the public prefers.

4.  The Postromantic Movement

Does the fact we’re original in some ways make us a movement? More generally, what makes something be an art movement? First, a movement has to include a significant number of artists, a group. Such a group needs to be formed by artists who have a reputation on their own, as individuals. Our movement, which has just begun to form, already includes dozens of artists from several countries, including Mexico, Brazil, the United States, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Romania and Italy. And we’re growing rapidly as more artists see the appeal of postromantic art.

Second, to be a movement, a group of artists has to propose some shared techniques and a cohesive vision. The postromantic artists do have that in common implicitly. My job as a writer is to help render what they have in common more obvious by articulating an aesthetic vision.

Third, and most importantly, a movement has to move. An art movement affects the public; is discussed by art critics and the media; adapts to society; is challenged and reacted against (otherwise it becomes complacent and stale); it spreads and mutates; is imitated or followed by other artists. We’re starting to meet this much tougher standard as well. The postromantic artists have had articles written on their art all over the world. They had several collective exhibits, including at the Biennale di Firenze, the art expo in Florence, Italy, where a section of the museum was devoted to postromantic art. However, what ultimately will make this movement move is you—our public and readers—for whom we paint, sculpt, photograph and write. It’s to you that we devote postromanticism, the art of passion.

Claudia Moscovici

Postromanticism.com


October 29, 2010 Posted by | aesthetics, art criticism, Claudia Moscovici, literature salon, literaturesalon, passion, postromanticism Claudia Moscovici, Romanticism, Romanticism and Postromanticism, The Postromantic Manifesto | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review of She’s Come Undone: A Modern Bildungsroman

It’s probably no accident that the heroine of Wally Lamb’s engaging first novel, “She’s Come Undone,” is named Dolores, just like Nabokov’s young heroine, Dolores Haze, better known as Lolita. The plot lines of these novels also have some obvious similarities, since both heroines are raped by sociopathic older men posing as father figures. But whereas Nabokov’s Lolita comes undone from this experience, Lamb’s Dolores becomes a survivor after being a victim. She has a lot to overcome: the unraveling of her parents’ marriage; her difficult relationship with her mother; being raped at a young age; being ostracized by her peers at school. Dolores copes with her difficulties by rewarding herself with food, but predictably, overeating only adds to her problems. Even the man she falls in love with and eventually marries turns out to be nothing more than a narcissist in love with her adulation rather than with her. Yet by the end of the narrative, the heroine becomes stronger and more self-sufficient rather than weaker because of her troubles.

The best contemporary fiction, it seems, offers us two Aristotelian alternatives, as an escape from the humdrum of our  lives: heroes that are somehow better than us  and who can inspire us or antiheroes whose lives are so disastrous and whose problems are so heart-wrenching that they make our own lives seem downright easy by comparison. In “She’s Come Undone,” Wally Lamb magically manages to do both at once, which is not an easy task. This master of psychological fiction depicts a compelling heroine who is first defeated, only to rise above the worst life has to offer.

Claudia Moscovici, literaturesalon

October 22, 2010 Posted by | book review, Book Review of She's Come Undone: A Modern Bildungsroman, Claudia Moscovici, fiction, literary criticism, literature, literature salon, literaturesalon, psychological fiction, She's Come Undone, Wally Lamb | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Book Review of She’s Come Undone: A Modern Bildungsroman

Book Review of Elliot Perlman’s Seven Types of Ambiguity

The first time I read Elliot Perlman’s Seven Types of Ambiguity I was very impressed by the fact that the same story could be recounted by several different narrators without a dull moment, cover to cover. This novel gives new meaning to the concept of “repetition with a difference.” Perlman was also very effective in the art of subtlety: showing how a relatively insignificant event could assume enormous proportions, affecting the lives of the main characters. Seven Types of Ambiguity is, above all, a psychological thriller. It tells the story of Simon’s obsessive love for his former college girlfriend, Anna, who left him ten years earlier. But the novel’s strength in creating dramatic tension out of a relatively small psychological event also turned out to be a stumbling block the second time I read it. Because, ultimately, Simon was not a compelling character. In fact, none of the main characters were. This novel is an absolute masterpiece in layering its narration in concentric circles around a main event through radically different points of view with distinct personalities and voices. Yet, in my estimation, Seven Types of Ambiguity wasn’t as strong in creating three-dimensional characters. For a novel built upon psychological suspense and the strength of its characterizations, this is a weakness that can’t be completely overlooked.

Claudia Moscovici, Notablewriters.com

September 29, 2010 Posted by | book review, Book Review of Elliot Perlman's Seven Types of Ambiguity, Claudia Moscovici, contemporary fiction, Elliot Perlman, fiction, literary criticism, literature, literature salon, literaturesalon, love story, mainstream fiction, Seven Types of Ambiguity | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Book Review of Elliot Perlman’s Seven Types of Ambiguity

Book Review of The Historian

As a Romanian-American writer, I’m somewhat allergic to books about vampires. The association between Romania and Dracula is a bit too close for comfort. In Romania, people don’t really care about the Dracula legend. Romanians take far more pride in the country’s rich tradition of art, poetry and literature (not to speak of gymnastics…). However, I make a notable exception for Elizabeth Kostova’s psychological thriller, The Historian, which will soon be released as a movie as well. This is not your usual vampire genre fiction. If you haven’t read this international best-seller because, like many of us, you’re getting tired of the saturation of vampire movies and fiction in our culture, then you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise with The Historian.

Written in exquisite literary prose, the novel excels at creating suspense from the craft of the narration itself and the strength of its characterizations. Step by step, readers become immersed in a labyrinthine historical investigation for the elusive, mythical figure of Dracula. Kostova transforms the classic literary theme of the vampire–one which is usually immersed in seedy seduction scenes and blood and gore in contemporary fiction–into what Bram Stoker’s original actually was: a suspenseful historical novel that traces a remote country’s mysterious past, where truth becomes inseparable from legend and fiction is richer than reality.

Claudia Moscovici, literaturesalon

September 27, 2010 Posted by | book review, Book Review of The Historian, Bram Stoker, Claudia Moscovici, Dracula, Elizabeth Kostova, literary criticism, literature, literature salon, literaturesalon, The Historian, the movie, vampire fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Book Review of The Historian