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Description - Zeno's Conscience by Italo Svevo

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 inevitably embroiders the truth. Absorbing and devilishly entertaining, ZENO'S CONSCIENCE is at once a comedy of errors, a sly testimonial to he joys of procrastination, and a surpassingly lucid vision of human nature by one of the most important Italian literary figures of the twentieth century.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781857152494
ISBN-10: 1857152492
Format: Hardback
(210mm x 31mm x 135mm)
Pages: 437
Imprint: Everyman's Library
Publisher: Everyman
Publish Date: 28-Sep-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Zeno's Conscience by Italo Svevo

UK Kirkus Review » Everyone has heard of James Joyce, yet how many have heard the name of his friend and contemporary Italo Svevo? Let us hope that this new edition, published by the perennially popular Everyman and featuring the first new translation of this exceptional novel for 70 years, will bring deserved recognition to this Italian author. In a psychological master-stroke, he has his anti-hero, the philandering, middle-aged Zeno Cosini, tell his own story in the form of a memoir his doctor has instructed him to write as a prelude to his psychoanalysis. The hapless Cosini is careful to show his every move, his every motivation, in as favourable a light as possible, yet, as we read his account through the eyes of the analyst, the truth behind the facade is revealed. Although vain, Cosini is an engaging character, and his struggle to give up smoking, a theme that recurs throughout the book, never fails to elicit a wry smile, his constant refrain of 'L.C.' - for 'Last Cigarette!' - peppering his path through life. He falls in with an older merchant who has four daughters, each of whose names begins with A, and in typical Zeno fashion, ends up marrying the wrong one. Just as he is unable to resist the lure of tobacco, so he is drawn into a messy affair with an aspiring singer, and we are exposed to the full force of his hypocrisy and self-justification. Similarly, we hear about all the favours he has done to his in-laws, offering them financial salvation when it is clear that it is partly his fault - a speculative venture gone badly wrong - that they are in the mess in the first place. It is perhaps appropriate that the novel is set in Svevo's own home city of Trieste. The fractured identity of this port, now in Italy, but in 1923 still part of Austria, is a fitting metaphor for the fractured glass through which we can make out the constituent parts of Zeno's life, and how others see him. It is sometimes hard to believe that Svevo wrote this in the early 20th century - its complex, introspective themes and simple, unadorned language, with its light and humorous touches, have a very modern feel - and the only pity is that he is not the household name he deserves to be. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Italo Svevo

Aron Ettore Schmitz (December 19, 1861 - September 13, 1928), better known by the pseudonym Italo Svevo, was an Italian businessman and author of novels, plays, and short stories. His best-known novel is The Confessions of Zeno (or Zeno's Conscience) (1923). Svevo published the work at the age of 62 at his own expense. The novel, dealing with the self-revelations of a nicotine addict, is considered one of the greatest examples of European experimental modernist writing. Svevo was killed in an automobile accident. Further Confessions of Zeno (1969) appeared posthumously.

Books By Italo Svevo

Life by Italo Svevo
Paperback, November 2006
Emilio's Carnival by Italo Svevo
Paperback, October 2001
Confessions by Italo Svevo
Hardback, March 2001
As A Man Grows Older by Italo Svevo
Paperback, January 2001