Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

July Books 9) Confessions of Zeno, by Italo Svevo

Ma mi colse allora un'altra piccola malattia da cui non dovevo più guarire. Una cosa da niente; la paura d'invecchiare e sopra tutto la paura di morire.
At that time I was attacked by a slight illness from which I was never to recover. It was a mere trifle; the fear of growing old, and above all the fear of death.
This is supposedly one of the great twentieth century novels, the tale of Trieste businessman Zeno Cosini, his smoking, his father, his wife and mistress, and his largely unsuccessful business dealings. James Joyce, who had taught the author English in Trieste, boosted it and it's pretty clear that Zeno Cosini is a very close ancestor of Leopold Bloom's and that the novel is consciously placed in the wider Proust / Woolf / Joyce tradition.

It's not really as good, though. Zeno is difficult to like or sympathise with; he is the author of his own misfortunes, but not in a terribly interesting or engaging way. The stories are presented as if published by his psychiatrist, who warns that they are full of lies; but if so, we never really find out what the lies are, which I find a weakness. However the detailed depiction of Trieste in the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, brick by brick, is very good and again is something Joyce drew on later. Recommended for fans of early twentieth century literature.
Tags: bookblog 2013
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