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La coscienza di Zeno (Audio-eBook)

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Il capolavoro di Svevo è centrato sulla figura di Zeno, ma è in realtà un gioco di specchi: c'è Ettore Schmitz, autore reale, che si specchia nell'autore inventato, Italo Svevo, che a sua volta si specchia in Zeno, autore del diario di vita commissionatogli dal suo psicoanalista, in una rincorsa ludica alle possibili identificazioni. Zeno soffre di nevrastenia e per questo Il capolavoro di Svevo è centrato sulla figura di Zeno, ma è in realtà un gioco di specchi: c'è Ettore Schmitz, autore reale, che si specchia nell'autore inventato, Italo Svevo, che a sua volta si specchia in Zeno, autore del diario di vita commissionatogli dal suo psicoanalista, in una rincorsa ludica alle possibili identificazioni. Zeno soffre di nevrastenia e per questo si rivolge alla psicoanalisi, ma senza esiti curativi reali se non una consapevolezza che si forma attraverso 'un'errabonda ricerca di se stesso'. Questo Audio-eBook è nel formato EPUB 3 che ha funzioni molto importanti per la didattica, soprattutto l'evidenziazione del testo scritto che viene contemporaneamente ascoltato, migliorando così l'apprendimento linguistico, emotivo ed empatico attraverso la Lettura+Ascolto di libri e audiolibri. Per fruire al meglio di questo Audio-eBook da leggere e ascoltare in sincronia leggi la pagina d'aiuto a questo link: https://help.streetlib.com/hc/it/arti...


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Il capolavoro di Svevo è centrato sulla figura di Zeno, ma è in realtà un gioco di specchi: c'è Ettore Schmitz, autore reale, che si specchia nell'autore inventato, Italo Svevo, che a sua volta si specchia in Zeno, autore del diario di vita commissionatogli dal suo psicoanalista, in una rincorsa ludica alle possibili identificazioni. Zeno soffre di nevrastenia e per questo Il capolavoro di Svevo è centrato sulla figura di Zeno, ma è in realtà un gioco di specchi: c'è Ettore Schmitz, autore reale, che si specchia nell'autore inventato, Italo Svevo, che a sua volta si specchia in Zeno, autore del diario di vita commissionatogli dal suo psicoanalista, in una rincorsa ludica alle possibili identificazioni. Zeno soffre di nevrastenia e per questo si rivolge alla psicoanalisi, ma senza esiti curativi reali se non una consapevolezza che si forma attraverso 'un'errabonda ricerca di se stesso'. Questo Audio-eBook è nel formato EPUB 3 che ha funzioni molto importanti per la didattica, soprattutto l'evidenziazione del testo scritto che viene contemporaneamente ascoltato, migliorando così l'apprendimento linguistico, emotivo ed empatico attraverso la Lettura+Ascolto di libri e audiolibri. Per fruire al meglio di questo Audio-eBook da leggere e ascoltare in sincronia leggi la pagina d'aiuto a questo link: https://help.streetlib.com/hc/it/arti...

30 review for La coscienza di Zeno (Audio-eBook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ilse

    A Dead Honest Liar Now Sunday arrived. I, who work so little, retained always a great respect for the holiday, which divides life into brief periods, making it more tolerable. On his psychiatrist’s request, Zeno Cosini, a businessman from Trieste, describes six episodes in his life, self-analysing his actions, feelings and motives ostensibly dead honest. Zeno is a champion of good intentions and crooked reasoning. All his plans fail miserably: he doesn’t manage to stop smoking, when choosing amon A Dead Honest Liar Now Sunday arrived. I, who work so little, retained always a great respect for the holiday, which divides life into brief periods, making it more tolerable. On his psychiatrist’s request, Zeno Cosini, a businessman from Trieste, describes six episodes in his life, self-analysing his actions, feelings and motives ostensibly dead honest. Zeno is a champion of good intentions and crooked reasoning. All his plans fail miserably: he doesn’t manage to stop smoking, when choosing among four sisters he marries just the one he doesn't want to marry, he loses his mistress by complicated lies, drives his business partner to despair, turns out to follow the wrong funeral procession... Zeno is an antihero, a schlemiel, an eccentric hypochondriac, but with his sublime self-mockery he condones his mistakes and weaknesses so disarmingly that I caught myself on almost every page on a lenient smile. Egon Schiele, Harbor of Trieste, 1907 However it took me some time to attune to the rather slow pace of the novel, in the end I came to mostly enjoy Zeno’s tragicomic interior monologue which includes some satirical nods to Freud – and looking back on it, I still dream of visiting Trieste sometime. Egon Schiele, Harbor of Trieste, 1908 Ofschoon ik bitter weinig werk heb ik toch altijd een grote eerbied behouden voor de rustdag, die het leven in kleine periodes onderverdeelt en het zodoende dragelijker maakt. In opdracht van zijn psychiater beschrijft Zeno Cosini, zakenman uit Triëst, zes episoden uit zijn leven. Hij analyseert “goudeerlijk” zijn handelingen, gevoelens en motieven. Zeno is kampioen in goede voornemens en kromme redeneringen. Al zijn plannen mislukken jammerlijk: hij slaagt er niet in te stoppen met roken, kiest onder vier zussen net diegene tot vrouw die hij niet wil, verliest door gecompliceerde leugens zijn minnares, drijft zijn zakenpartner tot wanhoop, volgt de verkeerde begrafenisstoet… Zeno is een antiheld, een schlemiel met sublieme zelfspot, een excentrieke hypochonder, maar hij vergoelijkt zijn fouten en zwakheden zó ontwapenend, dat je jezelf bij zowat elke pagina op een toegeeflijke glimlach betrapt. Een tragikomische monologue intérieur met een satirische knipoog naar Freud.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Zeno Zeno Zeno where do I begin!, life in Trieste was not going good was it, and you really did have some problems didn't you my dear old fellow, not only were attempts to cure your smoking sickness an utter disaster!, after being introduced to his daughters by Giovanni Malfenti you would end up with both a lovely wife in Augusta but also a desirable mistress in Carla, and not have true feelings for either one of them. And the reason?, you were in love with Augusta's sister Ada but she didn't fe Zeno Zeno Zeno where do I begin!, life in Trieste was not going good was it, and you really did have some problems didn't you my dear old fellow, not only were attempts to cure your smoking sickness an utter disaster!, after being introduced to his daughters by Giovanni Malfenti you would end up with both a lovely wife in Augusta but also a desirable mistress in Carla, and not have true feelings for either one of them. And the reason?, you were in love with Augusta's sister Ada but she didn't feel the same way about you, and would end up being charmed by Guido while he played the violin and they would go on and tie the knot. Another issue was Guido who you secretly despised for winning over Ada, would become your business partner where things did not exactly go according to plan, after financial difficulties Guido would take drastic measures that would leave you in limbo. Your psychoanalyst thinks your memoirs are a good source of therapy and would help with your neuroses, what would he know!. Looking back on the events concerning the death of your father, marriage, career and the feeble way in which you tried to give up smoking because you just could not resist that so called last cigarette it was a complete joy reading about your history, and Italo Svevo has done a wonderful job in telling your tale, with exquisite writing and some memorable moments that were most charming and often humorous. Ok I have to admit it felt like trying to tame a wild horse at first, but with time and patience things were soon pacified and I had a great reading experience. Sadly What I had hoped would be an inspiration for me in my own desperate attempts to ditch the coffin nails things could be better, but at least having my head buried in the pages of a book is one way to at least cut down!. Now where did I leave that ashtray?.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    Some novels are not only unique but also inimitable and I’m glad to say that Zeno's Conscience belongs to this extraordinary class of books. “I felt a shudder run through me at the vision of all that acid, but immediately afterwards I had a somewhat happier vision of life: I didn’t like lemons, but if they were to give me the liberty to do what I should do or wanted to do without suffering harm, freeing me from every other restraint, I would consume those countless lemons myself. Complete freedom Some novels are not only unique but also inimitable and I’m glad to say that Zeno's Conscience belongs to this extraordinary class of books. “I felt a shudder run through me at the vision of all that acid, but immediately afterwards I had a somewhat happier vision of life: I didn’t like lemons, but if they were to give me the liberty to do what I should do or wanted to do without suffering harm, freeing me from every other restraint, I would consume those countless lemons myself. Complete freedom consists of being able to do what you like, provided you also do something you like less. True slavery is being condemned to abstinence: Tantalus, not Hercules.” Zeno is a huge soap bubble blown up with smugness – he has no will and goes where the wind carries him so he just keeps dodging and swerving in order not to burst. The outside world is reflected in his consciousness in bright and iridescent colours but this reflection is absolutely distorted. “Late one night I had come home and, rather than go to bed, I had entered my little study and turned on the gas. In the light a fly began to torment me. I managed to give it a tap—a light one, however, to avoid soiling my hand. I forgot about it, but then I saw it in the center of the table as it was coming to. It was motionless, erect, and it seemed taller than before, because one of its little legs was paralyzed and couldn’t bend. With its two hind legs it assiduously smoothed its wings. It tried to move, but turned over on its back. It righted itself and stubbornly resumed its assiduous task.” Zeno is like this fly: he is tormented by both reality and imagination. He is beaten, he is in the blind alley, he feels ill, he fills moribund, he suffers from hypochondria so he decides that he must be healed with psychoanalysis. “Natural law does not entitle us to happiness, but rather it prescribes wretchedness and sorrow. When something edible is left exposed, from all directions parasites come running, and if there are no parasites, they are quickly generated. Soon the prey is barely sufficient, and immediately afterwards it no longer suffices at all, for nature doesn’t do sums, she experiments.” But he manages to convalesce only when he is forced to face the real life and becomes bold enough to use his willpower… How often we think that we live but actually we are just being blown by the wind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Triest in Trieste An amazing tour de force of sustained irony, sending up everything from male feelings of superiority to psychoanalysis. It is, I suppose, never easy being a successful businessman; or for that matter even an unsuccessful one. Dealing with the vagaries of commercial life on top of the usual quanta of personal tensions is bound to produce certain idiosyncrasies and, well, 'tics' in a person of taste and discernment. Just look at Donald Trump. What better way to expiate these little Triest in Trieste An amazing tour de force of sustained irony, sending up everything from male feelings of superiority to psychoanalysis. It is, I suppose, never easy being a successful businessman; or for that matter even an unsuccessful one. Dealing with the vagaries of commercial life on top of the usual quanta of personal tensions is bound to produce certain idiosyncrasies and, well, 'tics' in a person of taste and discernment. Just look at Donald Trump. What better way to expiate these little personality defects than a sort of literary therapy? Write it all down so it becomes visible, conscious, and therefore subject to the will. Again, let Trump be our guide. Ah, if it were only that straightforward. One's life is just so....intractable, implacable. One feels like one is in the midst of a more or less permanent sigh. Without Twitter it was of course infeasible to be fully virile in Trieste of the 1920's And that's not even considering the possibility of man-flu.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Zeno's Conscience is the last of the three novels written by Italo Svevo. It was published in 1923 and finally brought fame to its author thanks to the support of writers like Valery Larbaud and James Joyce. The latter knew Italo Svevo in 1907 during a stay in Trieste where Svevo (whose real name was Ettore Schmitz) was his pupil and friend. Joyce made a few years later one of the models of the character Leopold Bloom of his novel Ulysses. Zeno's Conscience is one of the first novels to talk abou Zeno's Conscience is the last of the three novels written by Italo Svevo. It was published in 1923 and finally brought fame to its author thanks to the support of writers like Valery Larbaud and James Joyce. The latter knew Italo Svevo in 1907 during a stay in Trieste where Svevo (whose real name was Ettore Schmitz) was his pupil and friend. Joyce made a few years later one of the models of the character Leopold Bloom of his novel Ulysses. Zeno's Conscience is one of the first novels to talk about psychoanalysis. Svevo even makes the spring of the book since it is under the command of his psychoanalyst that Zeno, the narrator, undertakes to write down (hum ...) a few years of his life. Even if it is not strictly speaking the story of a psychoanalysis, we can consider that it is close to it. But this is not the only interest of the book: full of finesse and naivety at the same time this character of Zeno is a formidable storyteller of his own life, that of his entourage and the society in which he evolves in this city Trieste at the same time a crossroads of European commerce of the time and a city whose decline is near.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Best book ever about quitting smoking! Absolutely brilliant prose and excellent characters!

  7. 4 out of 5

    AMEERA

    i never read something boring like this before doesn't have any subject or story on it just wasting your time

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    La coscienza di Zeno = Zeno's Conscience = Confessions of Zeno, Italo Svevo Zeno's Conscience, is a novel by Italian writer: Italo Svevo. The main character is Zeno Cosini, and the book is the fictional character's memoirs that he keeps at the insistence of his psychiatrist. Throughout the novel, we learn about his father, his business, his wife, and his tobacco habit. The novel was self-published in 1923. The original English translation was published under the title Confessions of Zeno. تاریخ نخ La coscienza di Zeno = Zeno's Conscience = Confessions of Zeno, Italo Svevo Zeno's Conscience, is a novel by Italian writer: Italo Svevo. The main character is Zeno Cosini, and the book is the fictional character's memoirs that he keeps at the insistence of his psychiatrist. Throughout the novel, we learn about his father, his business, his wife, and his tobacco habit. The novel was self-published in 1923. The original English translation was published under the title Confessions of Zeno. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1986 میلادی عنوان: وجدان زنو؛ نویسنده: ایتالو اسووو؛ مترجم: مرتضی کلانتریان؛ تهران، آگاه، 1363؛ در 466 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1383؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران: انتشارات بان؛ 1397؛ شابک: 9786229942604؛ در 531 ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایتالیایی - سده 20 م خاطرات «زنو کاسینی» ست که به اصرار روانپزشکش آن را نوشته و نشان دهنده علاقه نویسنده به تئوریهای «زیگموند فروید» است. رمان شامل شش فصل است: «آخرین سیگار»، «مرگ پدر»، «ماجرای ازدواج من»، «همسر و معشوقه»، «داستان یک شرکت تجاری» و «روانکاوی». در یادداشت مترجم فارسی کتاب «وجدان زنو» از سوی جناب «مرتضی کلانتریان» آمده است که: «شوپنهاور معتقد است که اگر به کل هستی بشر بنگریم جز تراژدی چیزی در آن نخواهیم یافت، در حالی که اگر به جزئیات آن توجه کنیم، طنز و کمدی را جلوه‌گر می‌یابیم. در «وجدان زنو» همین دو جنبه ی زندگی انسان به نحوی استادانه ترسیم شده است. وقتی که از ادبیات جدید اروپا صحبت می‌کنیم و بلافاصله به یاد «جیمز جویس»، «پیراندلو»، «کافکا»، «پروست»، «لارنس»، «ژید» و «توماس مان» میافتیم، نباید فراموش کنیم که «ایتالو اسووو: چه از جهت اصالت سبک، و چه از جهت غنای ادبی، از زمره ی این پیشگامان ادبیات نوین اروپا هستند. و این سخن «آندره تریو» را در باره ی «وجدان زنو» از یاد نبریم: «یک شاهکار عظیم و باور نکردنی ...، در طول یک سده احتمال دارد تنها پنج یا شش اثر، به این غنا و عظمت خلق شود.» ا. شربیانی

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I love this novel so much! The main character is not particularly likeable, and the plot is as dull as a regular neurotic life confession can be, so what is there to love, really? It is the perfect mix of self-delusion and honesty that is the curse of most people who try to think and reflect on their actions and habits, only to be tricked by their thoughts and habits over and over again. Do we own our thoughts, or do they own us? Hard to tell, I think (and my thoughts immediately pick up on that a I love this novel so much! The main character is not particularly likeable, and the plot is as dull as a regular neurotic life confession can be, so what is there to love, really? It is the perfect mix of self-delusion and honesty that is the curse of most people who try to think and reflect on their actions and habits, only to be tricked by their thoughts and habits over and over again. Do we own our thoughts, or do they own us? Hard to tell, I think (and my thoughts immediately pick up on that and spin a thread). Quitting smoking can be a satisfying task for a lifetime if you realise that "smoking the last cigarette" is a pleasure you can't resist!

  10. 4 out of 5

    ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)

    Difficult to assign points to a book which I wanted to throw away most of the time I was reading it and ended up greatly admiring. It is the narrative of the life of a man living in Trieste at the end of the 19th century and the tumultuous beginning of the 20th. He presents us with all of the details of his foibles, bad decisions and excuses for himself. We meet his father, his wife and her family, and his friends and acquaintances. Often the story moves slowly as we watch the protagonist agoniz Difficult to assign points to a book which I wanted to throw away most of the time I was reading it and ended up greatly admiring. It is the narrative of the life of a man living in Trieste at the end of the 19th century and the tumultuous beginning of the 20th. He presents us with all of the details of his foibles, bad decisions and excuses for himself. We meet his father, his wife and her family, and his friends and acquaintances. Often the story moves slowly as we watch the protagonist agonize over simple decisions and, almost inevitably, make a hurried, rash decision. Often these decisions are quickly discarded. Other times, the action moves on quickly, out of the protagonist's control. He, along with the reader, must suffer the consequences, I did not find it easy to read this book. Italo Svevo has given us a character in his protagonist, Zeno, who is often erratic, detestable and self centred. It would be nice to be able to say that Zeno is, despite his faults, still loveable. I greatly disliked this character. His first person narrative was that of a person whom I would not like to know. I often put the book aside… but I always came back to it. Despite all of my frustrations, I needed to discover what the outcome of Zeno’s dishonesty, muddled thinking, self centredness, selfishness, manipulating, rationalizing and irresponsibility would be. The ending is at once surprising and consistent with the character. Zeno manages to redeem himself. I enjoyed the pastiche of psychoanalysis which was extremely popular at the time this book was published in 1923. There is also a great deal of social commentary and a wonderful sense of Trieste before the Great War. The writing is wonderful and I am really impressed with the translation.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Zeno’s Conscience is fantastic. It’s also very strange. The first and third chapters are ferociously funny, some of the funniest prose I’ve ever read—if nothing else, the casual reader could fly through the first chapter, which hilariously dissects the protagonists addiction to cigarettes and his countless attempts to quit. Yet there’s an intense sadness and despair in other places. (It’s been said that Zeno is almost a prototype for Woody Allen’s cinematic schlemiel persona. I would add that th Zeno’s Conscience is fantastic. It’s also very strange. The first and third chapters are ferociously funny, some of the funniest prose I’ve ever read—if nothing else, the casual reader could fly through the first chapter, which hilariously dissects the protagonists addiction to cigarettes and his countless attempts to quit. Yet there’s an intense sadness and despair in other places. (It’s been said that Zeno is almost a prototype for Woody Allen’s cinematic schlemiel persona. I would add that there’s a healthy dose of “Interiors” amongst the “Sleeper” slapstick and “Manhattan” angst.) The pacing is also uneven. There is no plot to speak of and therefore no thrust—after the first three chapters, the book seems to slow down almost to a crawl. However, what keeps you going in spite of this aimlessness is both the humor and the psychological insight into the characters. What makes this book so psychologically profound is that rather than just revealing the minutiae of how we behave, with precision that reminds one of the accomplishments of authors like Tolstoy or Chekhov, Svevo goes further and shows how these behaviors are concealed and interpreted by people. The book is told in first-person narration but by taking the form of confessions to a psycho-analyst, the accuracy of the biography falters and the text becomes riddled with lies. These aren’t just your ordinary, bold-faced lies. These are the subtle, familiar lies, the lies we tell ourselves to feel better about who we are, to justify our actions, to give us the confidence to go through things for which we wouldn’t ordinarily have the strength, to convince ourselves we feel the opposite of how we really feel. And while Zeno admits to lying quite often, he also does not realize that he’s lying more than he thinks he is. He can’t help it. He is a weak, weak character constantly thwarted by his lack of will and curious inclination to self-sabotage—in everything he attempts to do, he almost always achieves the opposite result, not because of outside influences but because of his very own actions. Yet despite Zeno’s farcical extremes, he appears simultaneously as a very real person. Who hasn’t visualized goals to the point where they seem somehow already accomplished yet fails miserably to achieve them in the face of reality? And who wouldn’t try to protect his ego from a constant assault of failures and unrequited desires by fudging the truth slightly? Zeno is a petty, neurotic bourgeois idiot but his foibles are familiar. I would say that this book should be more popular—but actually it is. In Italy, this book is required reading in some schools. Yet the unorthodox genre, lack of plot, and length are legitimate obstacles to a more widespread audience. If Svevo had trimmed about a hundred pages from the latter half of the book, his masterpiece now might be as popular and well-known in America as Ulysses, whose main character, Leopold Bloom, was perhaps inspired by a certain Italian Jew whom Joyce tutored while visiting the Austrian town of Trieste. Those last two conjectures can be left to the Svevo scholars. For the readers, there are the comic pleasures and unsettling truths of Zeno’s Conscience.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

    If anything, I suppose this book is the victim of its own reputation. I've heard it praised very highly to me as an 'Italian Proust', which is an unfairly high reputation to live up to. Not to say that the book is bad. The beginning half and last chapter are excellent. The first parts of the book are the bumbling journeys of an awkward businessman. He transcribes his life into a sort of diary to help him deal with his supposed mental illness, and the results are a brilliant piece of solipsistic a If anything, I suppose this book is the victim of its own reputation. I've heard it praised very highly to me as an 'Italian Proust', which is an unfairly high reputation to live up to. Not to say that the book is bad. The beginning half and last chapter are excellent. The first parts of the book are the bumbling journeys of an awkward businessman. He transcribes his life into a sort of diary to help him deal with his supposed mental illness, and the results are a brilliant piece of solipsistic art. There are his attempts to quit cigarettes, his mortifying attempt to marry three out of four sisters in the same family, and the sad nothingness after the death of his father. These chapters are masterpieces of emotional development, and are likely the things which made his reputation. The narrator is not just a comic figure, but one which accurately represents the half-truths and deflections which people tell in order to preserve their egos. The jealousy which he has over his unrequited love's husband is a fine example of this. The last chapter is something much darker in tone. This was set during the First World War, when "the lamps were going out all across Europe". This last chapter is a howl of despair, a violent lashing out at the sickness of mankind which our narrator thinks can never be removed. The middle chapters, however, are far below the endpieces. They seem to lack the mastery of emotional detail which Svevo wields in the rest of the book. Its entirely possible that his approach has just gone over my head, but I'm still entirely at a loss. Still, Svevo is a brilliant, if uneven, writer. His insights into the intricate lies people tell about themselves is deeply familiar and unsettling.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nora Dillonovich

    This book took me an obscene amount of time to finish. I am tempted to rattle off excuses, my various ineptitudes and the inumerable distractions that kept the book on the floor so many days. But I won't. They are unworthy of the time it would take to type them. I read the first three sections of this book quickly (compared to the hobbling-with-cane rate I read the rest). Zeno Cosini's neuroticisms about cigarettes, love, and women were highly amusing. The chapter about his father's death was to This book took me an obscene amount of time to finish. I am tempted to rattle off excuses, my various ineptitudes and the inumerable distractions that kept the book on the floor so many days. But I won't. They are unworthy of the time it would take to type them. I read the first three sections of this book quickly (compared to the hobbling-with-cane rate I read the rest). Zeno Cosini's neuroticisms about cigarettes, love, and women were highly amusing. The chapter about his father's death was touching and carried me along with some momentum. What a voice Svevo has given his character. Even while puttering through the other sections, I found myself in awe of the personality, so round and full- so contradictory and yet still honest and true, faithful even. Zeno is an Italian version of a Woody Allen character: replace New York with Trieste, rewind time a hundred or so years. He is bumbling yet charming, smart but a bit daft at the same time; he perseverates a bit too much for his own good, and has an ego that pitches manically from the top of the barometer, to not quite baseline, but a groveling sort of self-pity state. The other two sections were read much more slooooowly. This is not to say they were lousy- they weren't. They just didn't really reach the bar set by the entertaining chapters that began the book. These chapters, about his mistress and his business with his brother-in-law (and also a much shorter one about psychoanalysis) didn't keep my eyes open in the wee hours- nor did they inspire me to reach for Svevo immediately upon waking, which is often the case with books I am reading. With eyes like blind baby hamsters', I usually grope awkward for my book and minute by minute let the page lick my eyes fully open like words are the metaphorical tongues of my big warm hamster mother. Perhaps I am more fond of essays and stories involving neurotic habits (being a highly habited and somewhat neurotic person myself). I also love complicated first loves- especially when an entire family is involved and humorous capers ensue. There is a great scene where Zeno, emerald with jealousy, is propelled by a purely Zeno brand of malice to make a fool of Guido, the suitor of his initial love (sister 1 Ada, not his wife, sister 3 Augusta). Guido, claiming to be expert in the art of communicating with "ghosts" has the Malfenti family seated around a small table, anxious and supportive of the display of the talented Guido's skills. Zeno, unable to bear the titillation generated by Guido's boastful claim, shakes the table leg with his foot. Thus begins a hilarious scene of compulsion and envy as Guido and the family sit, eyes closed and on the edges of their seats as the "supernatural" foot of Zeno plays the part of Guido's deceased relative. What am I getting at in this review...?! My point: Zeno is an enjoyable character to read... I imagine he'd be good to chat and banter with and possibly even date... I wonder if he's handsome?

  14. 4 out of 5

    david

    I knew zeta about this author or his book until very recently when I saw its’ title on a site involved with world literature. Generally, when I finish a book I look for a quick online biography of its’ author. It was written by a businessman who, with his own money, self-published it in Italy in the early part of the twentieth century. It was received scanty but the demand for the work increased when his friend, a Mr. James Joyce, affixed it with his imprimatur. ‘Zeno’s’ is a well written fiction a I knew zeta about this author or his book until very recently when I saw its’ title on a site involved with world literature. Generally, when I finish a book I look for a quick online biography of its’ author. It was written by a businessman who, with his own money, self-published it in Italy in the early part of the twentieth century. It was received scanty but the demand for the work increased when his friend, a Mr. James Joyce, affixed it with his imprimatur. ‘Zeno’s’ is a well written fiction about a man, who tells his tale in a first-person diary format, suggested by his psychiatrist. This method, per the therapist, would allow the protagonist, his patient, to learn about his stated current condition through introspection of his past. Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo is yet another story about man and his thoughts about life and his world during an author’s period. It reveals, again, the stagnation of the human condition, regardless of who writes of it, when they wrote it, or the geographic location where it was originated. The reduction is always the same; A philosophical acknowledgement that we do not vary or deviate from what we are, generation to generation. The futility and impotence of a person or the entire collection of them to affect change in their character and in their world during their visit here, regardless of the imperative, is reiterated, despite what the majority (naysayers) will always believe. And that is the beauty of books (and the problem of films), the unique conference between author and reader without the intrusion of another's perspective.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Ho letto La Coscienza di Zeno in italiano un decennio fa. Può essere il miglior libro su un fumatore compulsivo, e mi ha fatto venire voglia di visitare Trieste. Naturalmente, Joyce imparato molto, e accreditato Svevo. Joyce insegnava inglese e italiano in fondo alla strada da Svevo a Trieste; Joyce aveva provato meglio italiano che su English - secondo gli esaminatori italiani. I read The Conscience of Zeno in Italian a decade ago. It may be the best book of a compulsive smoker, and made me want Ho letto La Coscienza di Zeno in italiano un decennio fa. Può essere il miglior libro su un fumatore compulsivo, e mi ha fatto venire voglia di visitare Trieste. Naturalmente, Joyce imparato molto, e accreditato Svevo. Joyce insegnava inglese e italiano in fondo alla strada da Svevo a Trieste; Joyce aveva provato meglio italiano che su English - secondo gli esaminatori italiani. I read The Conscience of Zeno in Italian a decade ago. It may be the best book of a compulsive smoker, and made me want to visit Trieste. Of course, Joyce learned a lot, and credited Svevo. Joyce taught English and Italian just down the street from Svevo in Trieste; Joyce had tested better on Italian than Inglese - according Italians examiners. Makes me wonder about standard exams in our era of teching to the exam.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    Zeno's Conscience became an immediate favorite of mine. Zeno is witty, self-deprecating, sly, ironically ignorant of himself, but at glimpses he is a man of self-reflecting genius. Zeno and Leopold Bloom share their origins in Svevo himself, and the classical "everyman" is well-crafted in both of them, in Zeno in particular is the "lovable fool" which seems to have a tradition in Italian modern literature (notably Calvino's Marcovaldo and Palomar). The novel's premise is the self-narrated story Zeno's Conscience became an immediate favorite of mine. Zeno is witty, self-deprecating, sly, ironically ignorant of himself, but at glimpses he is a man of self-reflecting genius. Zeno and Leopold Bloom share their origins in Svevo himself, and the classical "everyman" is well-crafted in both of them, in Zeno in particular is the "lovable fool" which seems to have a tradition in Italian modern literature (notably Calvino's Marcovaldo and Palomar). The novel's premise is the self-narrated story of a man who has submitted himself to Freudian psychoanalysis in hopes to snapping his addiction to cigarettes. Each chapter, which are laid out in a vaguely linear way through Zeno's life, navigates a particular facet of his life: his addiction to cigarettes, his relationship with his father, his romantic pursuit of his wife (following the cumulative failed pursuits of her two sisters), his difficulties in business, and his experience with his hack-psychologist. The narrative is tirelessly funny in an ironical and quirky way: the character of Zeno is shamelessly himself, falling only under the reign of his own misguided systems of logic and reason, and doggedly defending them throughout. He is a peculiar man, fixated with strange notions of the importance of dates, the significance of signs and letters/names, in fact he is strangely and uniquely superstitious in the Western canon of protagonists. Furthermore, he is almost too human in his contradictions and short-comings. He is at once ironically ignorant of himself, and at turns lambently insightful: Now that I am here, analyzing myself, I am seized by a suspicion: Did I perhaps love cigarettes so much because they enabled me to blame them for my clumsiness? Who knows? If I had stopped smoking would I have become the strong, ideal man I expected to be? Perhaps it was this suspicion that bound me to my habit, for it is comfortable to live in the belief that you are great, though your greatness is latent. Who hasn't felt that he was genius but that due to a number of external factors his own genius was left dormant, unrealized, wholly internal? It is comforting to imagine that we are capable of greatness, but that that greatness is simply unrealized. But what is genius without ambition? That is the question mark which is answered in the person of Zeno. The name Zeno itself is likely the heir of Zeno of Elea, whose paradoxes are famous for their reduction of motion to absurdity. What are the Confessions of Zeno if not a lesson in absurdity? A lesson in the futility and illusion of motion and progress? We see Zeno as a young man, as a suitor, as a businessman, as a father, as a son, and always he is the same, he is immutable in his consistence of absurdity. Consider Zeno's paradox of the arrow: it must always reach the halfway between A and B before it can reach its destination, but there will always be a midpoint that must be reach ad infinitum: therefore it will never reach point B. Of course this is absurd: observing the real world, we know that an arrow shot from point A will reach a point B in a fraction of a second. However, this absurd and paradoxical logic is the premise of the character of Zeno: If I didn’t go ahead, it was because of some doubts about myself. I was waiting to become nobler, stronger, worthier of my divine maiden. That could happen any day. Why not wait? Before he can commit himself to the enterprise of marriage he must feel suited for the position, in the blurry metrics of nobility, strength, and worth: goals which are so vaguely definable that they would be impossible to reach, like Zeno's arrow, always encroaching only on the midpoint. The question of the protagonist's sanity is constantly at odds with the question of his doctor's ability and qualifications: which is the insane one? We are constantly held in the realm of uncertainty of what to believe, who to believe. One question which tickled me throughout was the question of Zeno's sexuality: his feelings for the novel's women are scant at best, and fleeting at most: he seems to constantly feel the compulsion to re-assert or convince himself of his love for his wife, who was his last choice, and his vehicle for tying him to her father. Throughout the novel, Zeno positions himself as a satellite to a series of apotheosized and envied men: Zeno's father, Mr. Malfenti, and Guido: all men of confidence and ability which Zeno envies, admires, and pursues. Furthermore his relationship with women is so timid such that it breeds guilt and subservience: he considers himself unworthy even to the most unworthy, base, and unfitting women, he allows himself to be domineered by them, allows his life's vessel to be steered by them between the twin catastrophes of failure and ambition. While Zeno apparently admires the novel's men, it is in a distracted non-emulating way: he is provided for, he is set-up, he does not need to be successful, and in fact fears success. It would seem that whether it is success in violin or in business, what he champions in these envied men is their stable masculinity: a masculinity which he tries to emulate unsuccessfully through marital infidelities (a constant across his father, Malfenti, and Guido, which becomes to Zeno emblematic of modern masculinity). Despite the questions and nagging uncertainty around Zeno's sexuality and his relations with these priapic idols, the reader is ever rebuffed in his analysis of the narrator's character by the dauntless attacks on psychoanalysis throughout the novel. Despite the drama and difficulties of Zeno's story, he acknowledges in part his own fault, his tireless search, not for the traditional "meaning" in life, but rather the frivolous adventure: Nothing new had happened to me. I sincerely believe that I have always needed adventure, or some complication resembling it. In life there is always this desire for something new, and adventure, or significantly something which resembles adventure, happiness, novelty. In the immortal words of Proust our sensibility, which happiness has silenced like an idle harp, wants to resonate under some hand, even a rough one, and even if it might be broken by it. We constantly ache for something new, even if it is worse; this perversion is a side-effect of happiness, of cankering complacency. It is darkest shadow directly below the lambency of happiness: when we are most happy, we are reminded of the transience of happiness, of the immediacy and imminence of death. Zeno is constantly being confronted by the deaths of his idols, in fact all three men which figure so highly on the pedestal of his admiration meet their ends throughout the story, ends which Zeno tries his best to avoid accepting into his unshakable illusion of reality: deaths which become dates on his walls, representing not death but resolutions to quit smoking, to remain faithful, to change, but all resolutions which are forgotten and broken, and so too those dates and those deaths recede into the necropolis of the past. Because the novel is written in the present, looking back on the past, the dimension of time is especially significant to Zeno, and it colors all of his recollections. He acknowledges, in a glimmer of truth, the play of time on fact and creation, how time mediates reality into episodes which are as true as they are fiction: the difference between which time makes insignificant. If you convince yourself that something happened in the past, if you are thorough and consistent in your belief of this illusion of the past: is it any different to you than if it actually happened? Following Hamlet's adage of "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" this is precisely the case. Zeno admits, or lies, at the end of the novel that many of the events of his personal account have been fabricated, embellished, omitted, or otherwise altered, but asserts that they have the same colors, scents, sense of reality as living things, as real memories; that he knows they are fabulous is irrelevant because the reality he has assigned them makes them as close to reality as the blurry shades and shapes of his own kaleidoscopic memories. For months and months that hope supported me and animated me. Didn't it mean producing, through vital memory, in full winter the roses of May? The doctor himself guaranteed that the memory would be vivid and complete, such that it would amount to an extra day in my life. The roses would have all their scent and perhaps also their thorns. Thus, after pursuing those images, I overtook them. Now I know that I invented them. But inventing is a creation, not a lie. Mine were inventions like those of a fever, which walk around the room so that you can see them from every side, and then they touch you. They had the solidity, the color, the insolence of living things. Thanks to my desire, I projected the images, which were only in my brain, into the space where I was looking, a space whose air I could sense, and its light, and even the blunt corners that were never lacking in any space through which I passed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sean Blake

    One side of me sees this autobiographical novel as a vivid, dense and well written slice of life, but the other side sees it as a rambling and convoluted novel centered around a self-important narcissist... Just now the latter seems to clarify my current feelings towards this novel, but I get the feeling I will come back to this when I'm older, simply because it is a novel about one man's recollections of his life. Again, however, Italo Svevo writes some fine sentences.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cphe

    A friend on GR's brought this to my attention. It wasn't a novel I'd previously come across. Will admit that it was also a novel that I nearly put aside because I couldn't quite "gel" with Zeno, his thoughts, various ailments, neurotic disposition or his indecisiveness to say the least. Zeno was an unreliable narrator, however it was his story to tell and to psychoanalyse. Having said that Zeno did grow on me and I quite enjoyed reading his thoughts and seeing life through Zeno's eyes. Thoroughly A friend on GR's brought this to my attention. It wasn't a novel I'd previously come across. Will admit that it was also a novel that I nearly put aside because I couldn't quite "gel" with Zeno, his thoughts, various ailments, neurotic disposition or his indecisiveness to say the least. Zeno was an unreliable narrator, however it was his story to tell and to psychoanalyse. Having said that Zeno did grow on me and I quite enjoyed reading his thoughts and seeing life through Zeno's eyes. Thoroughly enjoyed the foreword by Elizabeth Hardwick. Having delved into James Joyce last year I was surprised and intrigued to find that Joyce and the author were well known to each other and that Joyce had been instrumental in promoting this novel at the time. Well worth a look at.

  19. 4 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/1448697... Of course there was much less to read back in the time of James Joyce when he claimed this novel a masterpiece. I suppose its thoughtful cleverness and neuroticism sufficiently entertained this literary icon. But its subject was to provide only a guarded level of interest enough to sustain my own reading for nearly half of it. The opening psychoanalytical concept presented as a doctor’s orders for Zeno to write his memoirs as a form of therapy, and the ope http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/1448697... Of course there was much less to read back in the time of James Joyce when he claimed this novel a masterpiece. I suppose its thoughtful cleverness and neuroticism sufficiently entertained this literary icon. But its subject was to provide only a guarded level of interest enough to sustain my own reading for nearly half of it. The opening psychoanalytical concept presented as a doctor’s orders for Zeno to write his memoirs as a form of therapy, and the opening threat of discussion being the too-habitual cigarette addiction taking precedence over all else for over four hundred pages, seemed both titillating and daunting. The idea of my being subjected to this dirty and smelly sickness for so many pages was at once disheartening. But the novel really wasn’t about Zeno’s struggle for quitting smoking or the levels for what any addiction provides in methodically ruining one’s life. It was more about relationships and how one manages to navigate the often choppy waters when everyone in proximity seems to view harmony as more important than honesty. Deceit, friendship, seduction, adultery, loyalty, and love all remain in focus throughout the entire novel. By book’s end, the negatives, for me at least, were too much to bear. The long and fitfully boring section in the last half of the book titled The Story of a Business Partnership provides ample reason to question the validity of Joyce’s claims for the book being a masterpiece. How any serious reader of fiction would possibly enjoy this long and drawn-out accounting for bookkeeping and dishonest business practices must prove himself to be a bean counter as well, or a person extremely interested in learning the Art of the Deal and deception. There was little of interest in the text for me and I soldiered through the exhausting ordeal as a lesson requiring of me a resentful attention much as I harbored as a teenager being forced to attend classes at my oppressive high school. A punishment unfit for any free and adventurous scholar of the creative word. The last chapter offered little to change my ill feelings for this rather mediocre book taken in light of the grandiose affinity for it presented by old Joyce. The character of Zeno I found not only a bore and uninteresting, but disgusting as well. When presented with charm and wit and good nature, even the most despicable of characters holds some redemptive spirit in which to embrace and love his fault-filled humanity. Though a character’s disorders prove to be too numerous to overcome, still the charm and grace in which the sick prevail rewards the reader with good feelings regardless of the outcome. But Zeno presented nor held nothing of the sort for me. There was naught I liked about his personality and the way he went about his days. And the same can be said for every character in this book. Italo Svevo might be recognized by important others as a great literary talent, but there is nothing in Zeno’s Conscience worthy of my recommendation.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yair Ben-Zvi

    This is a fascinating book which has a lot working against it (old views, old contexts lending themselves to some unfortunate views like sexism, light racism, etc) but, like an able dialectic, these only serve to augment this book's positives. The story of Zeno and his battle with, essentially, himself and his litany of neurotic obsessions (and how this is reflected by and caused by and a cause of his external circumstances) is one that is uniquely, and enjoyably maddening. Though not always funn This is a fascinating book which has a lot working against it (old views, old contexts lending themselves to some unfortunate views like sexism, light racism, etc) but, like an able dialectic, these only serve to augment this book's positives. The story of Zeno and his battle with, essentially, himself and his litany of neurotic obsessions (and how this is reflected by and caused by and a cause of his external circumstances) is one that is uniquely, and enjoyably maddening. Though not always funny, it's witty. And conversely when it isn't witty, it's funny. If I can sum up this book is one of those rare birds that succeeds almost because of its shortcomings. Now, I hadn't heard of this text until some random reading gleaned for me the fact that the novel's author, Italo Svevo, was a student of James Joyce (yes, THAT Joyce). And upon reading that (and reading that he was a Secular Jewish author, a personal attachment of mine) I had to read it. And I'm glad I did despite some translation issues; namely, my edition was proofread by someone who either wasn't getting paid enough or simply was having a long series of bad days because it's pretty shoddy in places. But all of that is immaterial to the meat of this text which is, at its heart, a perennially Jewish and concomitantly quintessentially human endeavor showcasing the very worst and, at times, the very best of human success. This human success is nothing grand in the vein of a Joyce or a Thomas Mann but something much more easy to relate to and universal, that of the success of living day to day with one's growing memorial pile of failures and successes, losses and triumphs, loves, obsessions, and finally death. As stated earlier though, this is a dialectic. And since it is a dialectic the book's final passages (wherein SPOILER Zeno muses in a darkly ironic shade of social darwinism ) is really only best understood as part of an equation of various integers. When Zeno ruminated about the world shaking off humanity like a disease (akin to a Carlin observation) I was left desiccated and more than a little down (a credit to the pathos Svevo was and is able to evince) and this was made more piquant with the idea of mortality, an idea that this book places glib, funny, and ultimately Kafkaesque with. We all die if we're not dying. It's the rare few that actually live (and escape mention in this novel). To focus only on Zeno's final observations is to miss the forest for the trees, however. And much like a classic Woody Allen film the pathos and the humor interweave to form an image of what it means to be a thinking person in any (neurotic) age, that is to say worried and ceaseless in wondering what it is to be sure of anything.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Josh Friedlander

    I was completely taken aback by how funny this was. Recommendations from Jameses - Joyce and Woods - coupled with its lengthiness, led me to believe this book would be a heavy, somber, read. It's a joy, an encomium to the Everyman, a Walserian celebration of dorky, awkward neurotics who marry plain women when rebuffed by others, flail in business, and, leaning over their fathers' deathbeds, are slapped in the face. Occasionally, Svevo can tend to verbosity, dragging out a series of guilty recrim I was completely taken aback by how funny this was. Recommendations from Jameses - Joyce and Woods - coupled with its lengthiness, led me to believe this book would be a heavy, somber, read. It's a joy, an encomium to the Everyman, a Walserian celebration of dorky, awkward neurotics who marry plain women when rebuffed by others, flail in business, and, leaning over their fathers' deathbeds, are slapped in the face. Occasionally, Svevo can tend to verbosity, dragging out a series of guilty recriminations or comedy of errors well past the reader's attention span. But in these sketches - written for his despised psychoanalyst - a complicated, fulfilling portrait emerges, of a life lived in full, with infidelity, jealousy and angst; but also with simple love, a marriage that swells to fill its great possibilities, the achievements of an ordinary man, without airs but not without pride, taking pleasure in Trieste life before the shadow of the Great War (the book ends in 1915; a short closing chapter touches on the hostilities). In some ways, the book this reminded me of most was Stoner, in its muted, careful speech, meticulously conveying the reader into the mind of its protagonist, whose veritude and comfortable presence is tangible in the book's prose.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katia N

    It is a poignant and funny novel. Zeno is self-centred and neurotic narrator. He is not extremely successful in any of his endeavours, but he does not lose his heart. His sense of humour is self-deprecating. It reminded me Woody Allen or Gary Shteyngart. The novel is overall feels remarkably fresh for a book written 100 years ago. But it also recreates the epoch and the sense of place quite well. There were episodes when it made me laugh loud. Some younger modern and sensitive readers might find It is a poignant and funny novel. Zeno is self-centred and neurotic narrator. He is not extremely successful in any of his endeavours, but he does not lose his heart. His sense of humour is self-deprecating. It reminded me Woody Allen or Gary Shteyngart. The novel is overall feels remarkably fresh for a book written 100 years ago. But it also recreates the epoch and the sense of place quite well. There were episodes when it made me laugh loud. Some younger modern and sensitive readers might find some comments misogynistic. But, imho, they are lighthearted and do not mean to harm. I enjoyed being in the company of Zeno.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I read Zeno's Conscience because I saw it on a 2002 list of the 100 greatest works of literature compiled by the Norwegian Book Clubs with the help of 100 authors from around the world and wanted to take a look at it. After a few pages, I was hooked. It purports to be a diary that was written for a psychiatrist, and which the psychiatrist has published for his own benefit rather than for the hero/narrator, Zeno Cosini, a well-to-do businessman of moderate talent in the city of Trieste, then unde I read Zeno's Conscience because I saw it on a 2002 list of the 100 greatest works of literature compiled by the Norwegian Book Clubs with the help of 100 authors from around the world and wanted to take a look at it. After a few pages, I was hooked. It purports to be a diary that was written for a psychiatrist, and which the psychiatrist has published for his own benefit rather than for the hero/narrator, Zeno Cosini, a well-to-do businessman of moderate talent in the city of Trieste, then under Austro-Hungarian control. What is it that I immediately loved about this novel? One could look in vain for something to quote, so it is obviously not its style that appeals to me. Perhaps it is Zeno himself, and Italo Svevo's attitude toward him. In a word, Zeno is something of a nebbish. He is ineffective in business (but fortunately, the company he inherited from his father is under the competent management of a talented businessman named Olivi, who brooks no interference from the son and heir). He is a balding chain smoker. He falls in love with two daughters of a local businessman named Malfenti who reject his proposals -- and he winds up marrying the ugly one with a squint, Augusta, with whom he nonetheless falls increasingly in love. In the meantime, the daughter he loved most, Ada, falls for one Guido Speier, who plays the violin better than Zeno, who speaks better Italian than Zeno, who looks better than Zeno. And, like a true nebbish, Zeno enters into a business partnership with him -- only to find out that his new brother-in-law is an incompetent dreamer. He conducts an affair with a trophy secretary he hires (Zeno, too, has strayed from his Augusta). Eventually, he commits suicide. One interesting thing about Zeno is that he has some problem going to funerals. He misses the funeral of his father, of his best friend, and of his brother-in-law Guido. During the course of her marriage with Guido, Ada has lost much of her looks due to illness; and Zeno marvels at it all. I ask again: What is it that I love about this novel? I don't seem to be any closer to giving an answer. Perhaps I see in it an emotional nakedness -- a personification of Shakespeare's speech by King Richard IINor I nor any man that but man is With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased With being nothing.And Zeno is nothing, but a lovable nothing. I wouldn't lend him money without regretting it; I wouldn't let him close to the woman I loved; but I wouldn't mind spending time with him in otherwise complete friendship and amity. Much is made of the friendship between Svevo and James Joyce, and there is little doubt that Svevo's career was made by that friendship. (And it is said that, furthermore, Svevo was the original for Leopold Bloom in Ulysses.) But until Italo Svevo and his Zeno Cosini came along, there wasn't anyone in fiction that I really recognized as being a person who could walk off the page and actually exist. Zeno is not merely a literary construct, shored up with a sense of style. I feel as if I could run into him tomorrow and be somewhat annoyed by his endlessly puffing a cigarette, only to fall under his spell, as I fell under Svevo's spell.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lark Benobi

    It required more concentration than I'm used to giving a book--the wit was densely packed into each sentence and took some un-packing to appreciate. I enjoyed making the effort. It struck me as some maniacal blend of David Sedaris and Dostoevsky.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Speranza

    Is death the cure for life or is it merely an incurable disease?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    I prefer its alternative title: "The Confessions of Zeno." A fictional character named Zeno--rich, a hypochondriac and a solipsist--writes his autobiography, goaded on by a doctor doing psychoanalysis on him. He talks about his attempts to stop smoking, his father's death, his marriage, wife, mistress and his business partnership with his brother-in-law who later dies while attempting to stage his second fake suicide. Divided into six(6) main chapters, its starts strongly and had it been ended a I prefer its alternative title: "The Confessions of Zeno." A fictional character named Zeno--rich, a hypochondriac and a solipsist--writes his autobiography, goaded on by a doctor doing psychoanalysis on him. He talks about his attempts to stop smoking, his father's death, his marriage, wife, mistress and his business partnership with his brother-in-law who later dies while attempting to stage his second fake suicide. Divided into six(6) main chapters, its starts strongly and had it been ended after the first two chapters ("Smoke" and "My Father's Death") I would have given it five stars without hesitation. The humor is purposedly dry (grim even), mocking and cynical. It is like P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves had become sardonic. Unfortunately, by the third chapter it starts to be a drag. Svevo running out of ammunition, with only some occasional flashes of brilliance here and there. Like in Chapter 3, "Wife and Mistress"-- "Actually a glance of one's own can be remembered as well as a word, perhaps even better. It is more important than a word because in all the dictionary there is no word that can undress a woman. I know now my glance then falsified the words I had conceived, simplifying them. To Ada's eyes, it had tried to penetrate her clothing and also her epidermis. And it had certainly meant: Would you like to come to bed with me at once?" Full of youthful mischief, this was published when Svevo was already sixty-two years old. His book before that, AS A MAN GROWS OLDER, was published when he was relatively young, at age 37. A very unique and likable novel despite its not-too-strong finish.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Italo Svevo (1861-1928) was Jewish businessman and part-time writer who lived virtually his entire life in Trieste. At one point, he engaged James Joyce as an English tutor. Joyce was impressed with the Conscience of Zeno which he rescued from obscurity by using his contacts in Paris to have the book published in a France. The success in France led to an English translation being released and a successful relaunch of the book in Italy. La Conscience de Zeno is a charming and witty biography of Sv Italo Svevo (1861-1928) was Jewish businessman and part-time writer who lived virtually his entire life in Trieste. At one point, he engaged James Joyce as an English tutor. Joyce was impressed with the Conscience of Zeno which he rescued from obscurity by using his contacts in Paris to have the book published in a France. The success in France led to an English translation being released and a successful relaunch of the book in Italy. La Conscience de Zeno is a charming and witty biography of Svevo's literary alter ego Zeno Cosini. Zeno tells how despite both lacking both ambition and charisma and being highly distracted by his literary interests, he still prospered in business due in large part to the mentoring of his father-in-law. He had a happy marriage and lived to have the last laugh on his enemies due in part to his skill at deceit. This book is a must for Joyce lovers as the urban legend holds that Svevo was the model for Leopold Bloom the protagonist of Ulysses. All readers will find it a charming story of Italy's Jewish community at the turn of the Twentieth Century.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robin Friedman

    A Great Novel Of Trieste The philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah's recent book "The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity" led me to Italo Svevo's modernist novel of 1923, "Zeno's Conscience". Appiah's book examines various concepts of personal identity that shape individuals' views of themselves and others, including religion, country, color, class, and culture. Appiah argues that individuals tend to take a too narrow, rigid view of their identities and urges the rethinking and broadening of identity A Great Novel Of Trieste The philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah's recent book "The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity" led me to Italo Svevo's modernist novel of 1923, "Zeno's Conscience". Appiah's book examines various concepts of personal identity that shape individuals' views of themselves and others, including religion, country, color, class, and culture. Appiah argues that individuals tend to take a too narrow, rigid view of their identities and urges the rethinking and broadening of identity concepts with the words of the Roman dramatist Terrence as a guide: "nothing human is foreign to me". Appiah's study discusses Svevo and his novel "Zeno's Conscience" at length and with high praise. Raised as a Jew, a convert, to please his wife, to Catholicism, and with ties to many nations and languages. Svevo developed, in Appiah's account, a cosmopolitanism and an openness to shared identity that appears to be a model for Appiah's own views. In one of many passages in his book discussing "Zeno's Conscience", Appiah writes. "Although he once referred to Trieste as a crogiolo assimilatore -- an assimilating crucible, or melting pot -- Svevo knew how much remained unmelted. His Zeno is, above all, a walker in the city, a boulevardier and rambler, moving from one neighborhood to another. He is also a man always struggling with his own irresolution, always smoking his 'last cigarette', always betraying his ideals, and forever scrutinizing his own prejudices and preferences like a quizzical ethnographer. He wants to confront uncomfortable truths -- to side with reality, however much it stings." (Appiah, p. 86) Appiah's praise brought me to this book and also helped me with its difficulties and ambiguities. Svevo was born Aron Ettore Schmitz and took the pen name Italo Svevo to combine the Italian and Swabian parts of his background. His novel is set in Trieste in the years leading up to WW I. Located in northern Italy on the Baltic Sea, Trieste was an important commercial center and port. Trieste has always been a cosmopolitan city with broad diversity and varying rulers. At the time covered in this novel Trieste was part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire but enjoyed substantial local autonomy. People in Trieste had developed their own language, Triestene, a dialect of Italian. Trieste, in its diversity and cosmopolitanism, is a main character in Svevo's book. The main human character is one Zeno Cosini, a businessman and sometimes idler in Trieste. The elderly Zeno has been undergoing psychoanalysis and has prepared his memoirs at the behest of the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist has released the memoirs to the public in a fit of pique at Zeno for leaving therapy. The purported memoirs form the bulk of the novel, with the exception of the concluding chapter. Zeno speaks in the first person of important events in his life. He is a highly neurotic, vacillating individual pulled, as are most people, between impulses and ideals. Zeno's memoirs discuss aspects of his life in great detail and with sometimes questionable accuracy. He is highly self-centered and alternates between tones of self-justification and folly. The tone moves between humor, irony, and seriousness. The book is organized more by incidents and themes in Zeno's life than by strict chronology -- the themes overlap. Perhaps the best-known part of the book is the first, short chapter in which Zeno chronicles his efforts to give up smoking and the many times in his life when he smokes his "last cigarette". Zeno then discusses his ambivalent relationship to his father and the heavy influence on his life of his father's death which occurred when Zeno was thirty. His businessman father left him a large inheritance to be managed by a long-time employee to prevent his son from squandering it. In the longest sections of the book, Zeno discusses his peculiar courtship of three young women whose names begin with "A" and who are daughters of a wealthy, flamboyant businessman whom Zeno has befriended. Zeno is rejected by two girls and accepted by the third who is physically less attractive than her sisters. Zeno proves an unfaithful husband, and he gives much attention to his affair with a young, poor would-be singer, Carla. The long relationship with Carla would not be Zeno's only infidelity. Still, the marriage endures and becomes a source of meaning for Zeno. Another lengthy chapter of the book describes Zeno's relationship with a young man, Guido, who has courted and won the sister whom Zeno had wished to marry. The story involves wheeling and dealing and much emotional and financial turmoil. The novel includes a great deal of detail and tension as Zeno moves from the frequently sordid, foolish actions of his life through his ideals to gain eventually a degree of peace. Among the many ambivalences of the book is Zeno's attitude to psychoanalysis -- he is ultimately able to jettison his therapy. The novel has many small scenes that develop its large themes including a pivotal scene with spiritualism and a Ouija board and many scenes and characters showing the love of music. I thought one of the finest moments of the work was a scene in which Carla at last breaks off the affair with Zeno in favor of marriage to her voice teacher. As Zeno leaves her residence, he hears the teacher playing Schubert's song "Abschied" -- "Farewell" on the piano he has purchased for the young woman in the arrangement by Liszt. It is an apt moment and choice and made me revisit the beautiful song I have known for a long time. The novel has the themes that Appiah found in the book and it deserves the praise he heaped on it. It offers a portrait of a fascinating city and of a troubled individual who ultimately learns to live and enjoy life and carry on. I was grateful for the opportunity to get to know this classic, modernistic novel. Robin Friedman

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pip

    I read in the preface that Svevo was a friend of Joyce and that the author has been described as an Italian Proust so my heart sank and I muttered a few deprecations. I was most pleasantly surprised. In fact, I found this a most enjoyable read. Italo Svevo (the Italian Swabian) was the pseudonym for one Ettore Schmitz, who lived in Trieste when it was part of the Austrian Empire. His background was Jewish, his education was German, and he was a businessman who wrote in his spare time and self pu I read in the preface that Svevo was a friend of Joyce and that the author has been described as an Italian Proust so my heart sank and I muttered a few deprecations. I was most pleasantly surprised. In fact, I found this a most enjoyable read. Italo Svevo (the Italian Swabian) was the pseudonym for one Ettore Schmitz, who lived in Trieste when it was part of the Austrian Empire. His background was Jewish, his education was German, and he was a businessman who wrote in his spare time and self published. He employed Joyce to improve his English, got Joyce to read what he had written, and asked Joyce to give him some publicity for this book. Joyce was successful at this and Svevo became popular in France first, and then finally in Italy. The book's premise is that the protagonist is asked to write a memoir at the behest of his psychoanalyst, which he does reluctantly. He decides to publish his memoirs to punish his psychoanalyst whom he regards as a failure. But the forward is written by this psychoanalyst himself. The protagonist is an indolent self-deceiving n'er-do-well whose musings remind us all of our interior monologues and self-justifications. It can be funny, insightful and excruciating in the same way that Woody Allen's anti-heroes can be mildly amusing and insightful while being difficult to watch. The first part discusses his attempts to give up smoking, ceaselessly giving himself deadlines to desist, which he invariably ignores. He then dissects his relationship with his father, his wife (whom he proposes to in comical circumstances) his lover and his business partner and brother-in-law. I think I enjoyed it so much because his dismissal of organised religion, his compassion for animals, his dismissal of psychoanalysis and his comical rationalisations reminded me so much of myself. I think the Woody Allen analogy is because he was obsessed with his health and suffered all kinds of psychosomatic conditions (such as developing a limp). Some of my favourite quotes" "Once married, you don't talk anymore about love, and when you feel the need to speak of it, animal instincts quickly intervene and restore silence". "I wanted health for myself even at the price of sloughing off sickness onto the non-patriarchs, and especially during our journey, sometimes I gladly struck the pose of an equestrian statue." Our hero believes that sickness is a reminder and a precursor of death but "It was not death I desired, but sickness, a sickness that would serve me as a pretext to do what I 'wanted, or that would prevent me from doing it'" and finally "Like all unloved women, she complained of great wrongs and small ones with the same fervour". A fascinating prediction at the end of the book stated "That when poison gases no longer suffice, an ordinary man, in the secrecy of a room in this world, will invent an incomparable explosive, compared to which the explosives currently in existence will be considered harmless toys. And another man, also ordinary, but a bit sicker than others will steal this explosive and will climb up at the centre of the earth, to set it on the spot where it can have the maximum impact". Hiroshima?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Grouped with Proust and Joyce as writers of "advanced" literature, notably due to the increased interest in psychology within the writing, he fails to deliver the required prose that accommodates similar works. Little actually happens in the book, with the protagonist, Zeno, being ordered by his psychologist to write a book detailing his history. The chapters, instead of being systematic, focus on a particular stage in his life: his inability to quit smoking; his father's death; his marriage and Grouped with Proust and Joyce as writers of "advanced" literature, notably due to the increased interest in psychology within the writing, he fails to deliver the required prose that accommodates similar works. Little actually happens in the book, with the protagonist, Zeno, being ordered by his psychologist to write a book detailing his history. The chapters, instead of being systematic, focus on a particular stage in his life: his inability to quit smoking; his father's death; his marriage and subsequent liaisons; his business affairs; and finally, the last chapter containing his letters in his diary. An act that the psychologist banned as it would only reinforce his views.  Like Proust, he limits any reference to time, so that the reader has to try to grasp the connection between each event in his life, and how those prior affected him. unfortunately, he lacks the prose and eloquence that pushes one to continue through works by Proust. As mentioned earlier, the last chapter contains diary inputs. These, unlike the rest of the book, focus little on the psychology of the characters, but rather Zeno's experiences as war [1914] finally reaches him. I would have preferred if the whole book shared a similar telling, but it was following what was popular at the time. Below are some excerpts that demonstrate Svevo's ability as a writer. Sadly, these are not all too common: "And then facing me, the great Bach appeared in person. Never, before or since, have I felt so intensely the beauty of that music, which seemed to have grown out of the four strings like a Michelangelo angel out of a block of marble[...] In vain I thought "Beware! the violin is a siren and you need not have the heart of a hero in order to make others weep with it!". "It was a starry night without a moon, one of those transparent nights that calm and tranquilise the spirit. I gazed at the stars, seeking the constellation on which my father's dying look had rested." "One is neither good nor bad, just as one is not so many other things beside. Goodness is the light that in brief flashes illuminates the darkness of the human soul. A burning torch is needed to light the way, and the human intelligence must choose by its light the way it will have to take afterwards in the dark."

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