cover image Memoir of Italo Svevo

Memoir of Italo Svevo

Livia Veneziani Svevo, Livia V. Svevo. Marlboro Press, $28.95 (178pp) ISBN 978-0-910395-57-1

Italian-Austrian novelist Svevo (born Ettore Schmitz), whose Confessions of Zeno earned him comparison with Kafka and Joyce, was plagued by the self-doubts, compulsions and morbid jealousies of his introspective anti-heroes. This loving yet objective reminiscence by his wife of 33 years limns an obsessive self-analyzer and chain smoker who was successful in business but frustrated in his literary pursuits until shortly before his death in 1928, when James Joyce, who claimed to have been greatly influenced by him and was his English-language tutor in Trieste, promoted his writings. All the more remarkable for having been written during the depths of WW II, this serene, sparkling memoir interleaves Svevo's letters and diary jottings. An appendix reproduces his 1927 lecture on Joyce's sojourn in Trieste (``A piece of Ireland . . . ripening under our sun''). (Sept.)