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27 July 1989
Memoir of Italo Svevo 
by Livia Veneziani Svevo, translated by Isabel Quigly.
Libris, 178 pp., £17.95, April 1989, 1 870352 40 8
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... ordinariness achieves a highly individual and idiosyncratic literary status – James Joyce and Italo Svevo. Growing older, a bit despondent, never feeling quite well – these are the symptoms of Svevan man which we all recognise, and from which we suffer ourselves. The Svevan ordinary man belongs to no recognisable social category. Neither has he any ...

Mixed Feelings

James Wood: Italo Svevo’s Last Cigarette

3 January 2002
Zeno's Conscience 
by Italo Svevo, edited by William Weaver.
Everyman, 437 pp., £12.99, November 2001, 1 85715 249 2
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Memoir of Italo Svevo 
by Livia Veneziani Svevo, translated by Isabel Quigly.
Northwestern, 178 pp., $15.95, June 2001, 0 8101 6084 6
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Emilio's Carnival 
by Italo Svevo, translated by Beth Archer Brombert.
Yale, 233 pp., £22.50, October 2001, 0 300 09049 8
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... is Confessions of Zeno (to give it its familiar English title), which first appeared in 1923. Italo Svevo’s novel belongs recognisably to the comic tradition of Don Quixote and The Good Soldier Svejk, a comedy defined by Schopenhauer (a great influence on Svevo) as residing in the incongruity between our concepts ...

Dirty Realist

Michael Foley

2 May 1985
Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories 
by Raymond Carver.
Harvill, 204 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 00 271243 1
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The Stories of Raymond Carver 
Picador, 447 pp., £3.50, May 1985, 0 330 28552 1Show More
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... my wife. After describing a scuffle with his son the narrator mentions with approval a scene from Italo Svevo in which a dying father uses the last of his strength to raise himself and slap his son’s face as hard as he can. Then the narrator adds: ‘I often imagined my own deathbed scene in those days, and I saw myself doing the same thing – only I ...

Diary

James MacGibbon: Fashionable Radicals

22 January 1987
... published many novelists in translation after All Quiet: for example, Hans Fallada, Sholokhov and Italo Svevo. Of these three, Fallada is forgotten, Sholokhov in disrepute, and Svevo, but only after repeated failures, is established as an author of Penguin Modern Classics. His Confessions of Zeno was one of the rare ...
24 March 1994
Cigarettes Are Sublime 
by Richard Klein.
Duke, 210 pp., £19.95, February 1994, 0 8223 1401 0
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... of Zeno, the definitive European novel about trying to quit, by Ettore Schmitz, better known as Italo Svevo. In both sections, Klein strays into the difficult terrain of psychoanalysis and emerges in reasonable shape. Svevo was in any case a rebel of the couch, for whom the smoking cure was a preferable way through ...

tarry easty

Roy Foster: Joyce in Trieste

30 November 2000
The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste 1904-20 
by John McCourt.
Lilliput, 306 pp., £25, June 2000, 1 901866 45 9
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... standing. In the years up to World War One, Austrian rule was rather haphazardly undercut by Italophile agitation, while the city and its inhabitants were affected by Slovene influences and the cosmopolitanism of a great seaport. Previous literary exiles had included Stendhal, Charles Lever and Richard Burton. In addition, Trieste had its own literary ...

Horrible Dead Years

Christopher Prendergast

24 March 1994
Baudelaire 
by Joanna Richardson.
Murray, 602 pp., £30, March 1994, 0 7195 4813 6
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... relish’ and then added the remark that would have made both him and Baudelaire good friends of Italo Svevo: ‘This may seem a futile remark, but it is a diagnosis which is rarely mistaken; when smokers and snufftakers no longer ask for tobacco, it is a bad sign; when they come back to it one is entitled to augur for the best.’ Alas, in the case of ...
23 October 1986
... retirement allowance. However, to your list of writer/paint manufacturers I must add a third name, Italo Svevo, a converted Jew of Trieste, the author of The Confessions of Zeno, who lived from 1861 to 1928. For a long time Svevo was the commercial manager of a paint company in Trieste, the Societa Veneziani, that ...

In a Cold Country

Michael Wood: Coetzee’s Grumpy Voice

4 October 2007
Diary of a Bad Year 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 231 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 1 84655 120 8
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Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill, 304 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 1 84655 045 4
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... much of Coetzee’s recent fiction.’ It is in this mode that we hear, in Inner Workings, of Italo Svevo, Bruno Schulz, Joseph Roth, W.G. Sebald. The method is less biographical for Saul Bellow, Graham Greene, Nadine Gordimer and others, and a long, frosty essay on Walter Benjamin engages crucial concepts thoroughly and ends in a magnificent, if ...

Our Lady of the Counterculture

Marina Warner: The Virgin Mary

8 November 2012
... in a story who finds he has been married off to the wrong sister (Jacob and Leah, and later, Italo Svevo in The Confessions of Zeno). But last year, when I heard the piece played on Radio 3, I found I could split it from its origins in papal ideology and propaganda uses of Mary. I could surrender to its beauty. This new serenity may be connected to ...

Travelling in the Classic Style

Thomas Laqueur: Primo Levi

5 September 2002
Primo Levi’s Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics 
by Robert Gordon.
Oxford, 316 pp., £45, October 2001, 0 19 815963 3
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Primo Levi 
by Ian Thomson.
Hutchinson, 624 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 09 178531 6
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The Double Bond: Primo Levi, a Biography 
by Carole Angier.
Viking, 898 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 670 88333 6
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... abroad. He was friends with many of his generation among Italian writers and especially close to Italo Calvino. He was also a man who felt deeply both his own suffering and the suffering of those close to him. He was heartbroken over the self-destructive drunken decline and death of Lorenzo Perrone, the mason who, more than anyone, kept him alive at ...

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