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Svevo, Italo

novel joyce zeno james

(Italian, 1861–1928)

Born in Trieste to an Italian-German-Jewish family, Italo Svevo (real name, Ettore Schmitz) wrote plays, stories, and criticism as well as fiction. His first novel, A Life, appeared in 1893, but Svevo remained largely unknown until he met James Joyce in the early 1920s. Joyce's encouragement and recommendation ensured publication for Svevo's masterpiece, The Confessions of Zeno (1923). The novel is a complex, multi-layered account, with no fixed viewpoint, of Zeno's arguments with his psychoanalyst and himself, and a central story-line about his efforts to give up smoking. Widely recognized as the first novel to be shaped by the theories of Sigmund Freud, The Confessions of Zeno has been enormously influential. The Tale of the Good Old Man and the Lovely Young Girl (1929) was Svevo's last completed work before his death in a car accident.

James Joyce, Italo Calvino, Georges Perec  WB

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