About the Author
Italo Svevo is the pseudonym of Ettore Schmitz (1861—1928), a Trieste businessman who won literary recognition late in life as the model for Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
William Weaver has translated the works of Umberto Eco, Primo Levi, Italo Calvino, and Roberto Calasso, among others. He is a professor at Bard College. His translation of Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is available from Everyman’s Library.
Table of Contents
|Map of Zeno's Trieste||xxvi|
|My Father's Death||31|
|The Story of My Marriage||61|
|Wife and Mistress||156|
|The Story of a Business Partnership||272|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Zeno is the most selfish, cynical and ironic narrator I have ever seen. The funny is, some passages do reflect what we usually think under similar circumstances (though we generally discard those thoughts). I think this is the reason this book is so captivating, it shows how ridiculous a human being can be.
Wonderfull.Svevo is a genius.The psychology digging into Zeno's (and ower's) mind is brilliant and fascinating.
Italo Svevo was 62 when this book was published in the 1920s. The book feels very much like an "old man" book and takes the form of a fictional memoir. I happen to like "old man" stories, and this was no exception. Each chapter is essentially a "chapter" from Zeno's life. There's the story of his father's death, his marriage, his affair, and his business. I thought the first chapter dealing with his struggles with "last cigarettes" was pretty hilarious as was the story of his engagement to a woman he first dismissed as "ugly" while pursuing her more beautiful sister. Zeno's perspective is usually pretty funny and slightly neurotic, but he comes across as a particularly kind man even when he is engaging in behavior that could often be construed as less than moral or appropriate. I also find it humorous that the supposed reason for even writing this "memoir" is as an exercise prescribed by Zeno's therapist although Zeno himself believes the doctor to be pretty off the mark in his diagnosis, and Zeno confesses to often lying just to satisfy the doctor's theories. As a reader, we too cannot be entirely sure what parts of the memoir are "real" but I can't imagine anyone caring, because that streak of mischief is what keeps us attached to Zeno anyway.
Something like an Italian, war-time version of 'A Confederacy of Dunces,' if acted by Peter Sellers. The mix of sartire and social commentary from the simple, deluded mind of Zeno is hilarious and eye-opening.