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Memoir of Italo Svevo
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About the Author

Livia Veneziani Svevo was born in 1874 to a family of middle-class Catholics. After a childhood spent partly in Marseilles, she returned to Trieste with her family in 1885. At age eighteen she struck up a friendship with a distant Jewish cousin named Ettore Schmitz (Italo Svevo), a bank employee and would-be writer thirteen years her senior. They married in 1896. Declared a Jew under Italian racial laws, she fled Trieste during World War II and wrote Memoir of Italo Svevo while in hiding.

Reviews

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.)

"This concise memoir cannot be bettered: it is affectionate, informative, and a pleasure to read."
--Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

"[T]he book is a small triumph. It paints a memorable, but not uncritical, portrait of the man and the writer, the two complementing one another."
--Observer

"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. . . . [A] serene, sparkling memoir."
--Publishers Weekly


"Ettore Schmitz, better known as Italo Svevo, was clearly lucky in his wife. Rather than burning his papers or burnishing his reputation (he is among the very best twentieth-century novelists), she set down her recollections of an ambiguous man with clarity and punctiliousness. Literary history as it should be writ, without flourishes."
--Keith Botsford, Bostonia

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