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  • Zeno's Conscience
  • Written by Italo Svevo
    Translated by William Weaver
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375727764
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  • Zeno's Conscience
  • Written by Italo Svevo
  • Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780375413308
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Zeno's Conscience

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Synopsis

Synopsis

The modern Italian classic discovered and championed by James Joyce, Zeno’s Conscience is a marvel of psychological insight, published here in a fine new translation by William Weaver–the first in more than seventy years.

 

Italo Svevo’s masterpiece tells the story of a hapless, doubting, guilt-ridden man paralyzed by fits of ecstasy and despair and tickled by his own cleverness. His doctor advises him, as a form of therapy, to write his memoirs; in doing so, Zeno reconstructs and ultimately reshapes the events of his life into a palatable reality for himself–a reality, however, founded on compromise, delusion, and rationalization.

 

With cigarette in hand, Zeno sets out in search of health and happiness, hoping along the way to free himself from countless vices, not least of which is his accursed “last cigarette!” (Zeno’s famously ineffectual refrain is inevitably followed by a lapse in resolve.) His amorous wanderings win him the shrill affections of an aspiring coloratura, and his confidence in his financial savoir-faire involves him in a hopeless speculative enterprise. Meanwhile, his trusting wife reliably awaits his return at appointed mealtimes.

 

Zeno’s adventures rise to antic heights in this pioneering psychoanalytic novel, as his restlessly self-preserving commentary inventively embroiders the truth. Absorbing and devilishly entertaining, Zeno’s Conscience is at once a comedy of errors, a sly testimonial to the joys of procrastination, and a surpassingly lucid vision of human nature by one of the most important Italian literary figures of the twentieth century.


 (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
 

Italo Svevo|Author Desktop

About Italo Svevo

Italo Svevo - Zeno's Conscience
Italo Svevo, whose real name was Ettore Schmitz, was born in Trieste in 1861. He was educated in Trieste and in a commercial school in Germany and returned to his birthplace to begin a business career that he pursued successfully until his death. He published three novels (at his own expense): Una vita (1892; English translation: A Life), Senilità (1898; English translation: Emilio’s Carnival; also translated under the title As a Man Grows Older), and La coscienza di Zeno (1923; English translation: Zeno’s Conscience; also translated under the title Confessions of Zeno). After his first two novels were ignored, Svevo considered giving up writing and devoting himself full-time to business. Aiming to improve his English, he fell under the tutelage of James Joyce, twenty years his junior. Svevo read early portions of Dubliners, and Joyce read Svevo’s two novels and encouraged him to take up writing again. When Svevo completed Zeno’s Conscience, Joyce arranged to have it published in France, where Svevo was dubbed “the Italian Proust.” He soon emerged from obscurity in Italy, and his rank as a major writer was already established when he died in a car accident in 1928.

Author Q&A

Take a look at the author' s name (his real name): Ettore Schmitz. The first half is Italian and, significantly, it is the name of a Greek hero, not of a Catholic saint. The surname is German. Then consider the birthplace: Trieste, a city that has had many masters, from ancient Romans to Austrians to Italians. In 1861, when Ettore Schmitz was born there, Trieste was an Austrian city, a vital one, the great empire's only seaport and a focus of trade between central Europe and the rest of the world. In this place of encounters and frontiers, young Ettore grew up to appreciate ambiguity, even contradiction; and, when he seriously began his career as a writer, he chose a pen name that reflected his complex background: Italo Svevo: Italus, the Italian; and Svevus, the Swabian (a duchy in medieval Germany, Swabia was also known as Alamannia).

Praise

Praise

“Svevo’s masterpiece . . . [in] a fresh translation by the dean of Italian literary translators.” –Los Angeles Times

“An excellent new rendering [of a] marvellous and original book.”–James Wood, London Review of Books

“A masterpiece, a novel overflowing with human truth in all its murkiness, laughter and terror, a book as striking and relevant today as when it was first published, and a book that is in every good way–its originality included–like life.” –Claire Messud, The New Republic

“Hilarious. . . . Effortlessly inventive and eerily prescient. . . . William Weaver . . . updates the novelist’s idiosyncratic prose with great affection.” –The Atlantic Monthly

“An event in modern publishing. For the first time, I believe, in English, we get the true, dark music, the pewter tints, of Svevo’s great last novel. . . . [Svevo is] a master.” –Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

“[An] exhilarating and utterly original novel. . . . Weaver’s version strikes one as excellent.” –P. N. Furbank, Literary Review

“One of the great comic novels of the twentieth century. . . . [Svevo is] perhaps the most significant Italian modernist novelist.” –The Times Literary Supplement

“[A] neglected masterpiece. Seventy-five years old, the novel feels entirely modern.” –The Boston Globe

“A reason for celebration. . . . If you have never read Svevo, do so as soon as you can. He is beautiful and important.” –New Statesman

“One of the indispensable 20th-century novels. . . . A revolutionary book, and arguably (in fact, probably) the finest of all Italian novels.” –Kirkus Reviews

“No one has done more to make modern Italian literature available in English than William Weaver. . . . [His new translation is] scrupulously accurate.” –Anniston Star

  • Zeno's Conscience by Italo Svevo
  • February 04, 2003
  • Fiction - Literary
  • Vintage
  • $16.95
  • 9780375727764

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