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Zeno's Conscience by Italo Svevo

Zeno's Conscience (edition 2001)

by Italo Svevo

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2,422312,561 (3.81)58
Title:Zeno's Conscience
Authors:Italo Svevo
Info:Everymans Library (2001), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

Work details

Zeno's Conscience by Italo Svevo

  1. 30
    Epitaph of a Small Winner by Machado de Assis (DieFledermaus, fspyck)
    fspyck: Ik vond er eenzelfde terughoudenheid in, Machado de Assis is misschien wat grimmiger, en speelt nog meer met vorm en intertekstualiteit, Svevo is ietwat hilarischer
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» See also 58 mentions

English (22)  Italian (5)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  German (1)  All (32)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
ספר מיוחד במינו על גיבור אנושי מאוד עם כל החולשות האפשריות אבל מקור להזדהות גדולה, מצחיק, מעייף, מרתק וחכם. ( )
  amoskovacs | Jun 10, 2017 |
I liked this because Zeno seemed more like a regular guy than just about anyone I've ever found in literature: mild, self-interested, inconsistent, given to dramatic gestures and hypocrisy, eager to be esteemed and loved and fairly lovable except when under duress. Says more about what I think a regular guy is than anything perhaps, and his self-satisfied little pensées did run thin after a certain time (about where he starts to get all cod-Mussolinian, all "the only cry to be respected is that of the victor," but again, because we've been with him a bit and know he is a regular guy, we forgive him it more or less because we remember our own moments of lame-assedly trying on tough-guy armour in our own heads). That and the painterly, by which I mean workmanlike, painter-as-in-house-painter, rendering of family dynamics and business matters in Italo-Austro-Slavonic Trieste in the immediate pre-WWI, make this a pleasant entertainment. ( )
  MeditationesMartini | May 7, 2017 |
As part of his psychoanalytic treatment, Zeno is encouraged to keep a journal and write about various aspects of his life. This begins with the apparently banal subject of Zeno’s cigarette addiction. But each further attempt turns to more serious subjects — the death of Zeno’s father, the story of Zeno’s marriage, his mistress, and his business partnership with his brother-in-law. Zeno concludes with a final section written during the first world war decrying psychoanalysis itself, . Throughout, Zeno is sceptical about the efficacy of this writing component of his cure. Yet he becomes increasingly enamoured of the story of his own life, regardless of how poorly he understands himself or others. Indeed, Zeno is the kind of unreliable narrator who is sceptical of his own narration. And so he often undercuts his accounts, sometimes even in the following sentence. And yet there is a charm here that captivates. Zeno is assuredly a fool. But no more so than each of the men he encounters in his life. Meanwhile all of the women he encounters (his wife, her sisters, their mother, his mistress) are paragons of virtue, kindness and forgiveness. Yet he also insists both that they know nothing, and worse that he knows nothing about what goes on in their heads. As you might suspect, we are moving swiftly in the territory of farce. So it is all the more surprising to find, by the end, how much pathos surrounds Zeno.

An unremitting, self-absorbed, untrustworthy first-person narrator can get tedious even over the short run. Yet Zeno continues to fascinate even as he drones on. Plus, with the level of self-effacement at hand, and the outright lies (enough of which get revealed to hint of more), it is hard to fathom what exactly to make of Zeno’s confessions here. His weaknesses, it seems, are his strength. And his all-too-human frailty, is in the end what confirms his humanity.

Well worth reading for its place in the history of modernism. But also worth reading because it is often very funny. And so, gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Nov 20, 2016 |
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. ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
Svevo (an alias) was long unremarkable before James Joyce tutored him in English while in Trieste. Joyce promoted this work and got it translated into French. The book would have obviously, I can now see, languished forever without the boost. Passages here and there are astute, but the book itself is a rambling, self-conscious kind of ode to Freudian-style analysis. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Jan 11, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (53 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Italo Svevoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Benco, SilvioAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Contini, GabriellaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saccone, EduardoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuin, JennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Io sono il dottore di cui in questa novella si parla talvolta con parole poco lusinghiere. Chi di psico-analisi s'intende, sa dove piazzare l'antipatia che il paziente mi dedica.
Misunderstanding women is a clear sign of scant virility.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
La storia di Zeno Cosini, inetto a vivere: una specie di marionetta tirata da fili che quanto più egli indaga, gli sfuggono. Una coscienza inutile a mutare un destino che sembra ineluttabile. E' il capolavoro di Svevo, la prima storia italiana dove entra prepotentemente in scena la psicanalisi come coprotagonista; forse il più grande romanzo del Novecento italiano e uno dei maggiori della letteratura europea del XX secolo.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375727760, Paperback)

Long hailed as a seminal work of modernism in the tradition of Joyce and Kafka, and now available in a supple new English translation, Italo Svevo’s charming and splendidly idiosyncratic novel conducts readers deep into one hilariously hyperactive and endlessly self-deluding mind. The mind in question belongs to Zeno Cosini, a neurotic Italian businessman who is writing his confessions at the behest of his psychiatrist. Here are Zeno’s interminable attempts to quit smoking, his courtship of the beautiful yet unresponsive Ada, his unexpected–and unexpectedly happy–marriage to Ada’s homely sister Augusta, and his affair with a shrill-voiced aspiring singer. Relating these misadventures with wry wit and a perspicacity at once unblinking and compassionate, Zeno’s Conscience is a miracle of psychological realism.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:48 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Zenos Conscience (previously translated as Confessions of Zeno) is at once a comedy of errors, a sly testimonial to the joys of procrastination, and a surpassingly lucid vision of human nature. Italo Svevo tells the story of a hapless, doubting, guilt-ridden man paralyzed by fits of despair and ecstasy and tickled by his own cleverness. His doctor advises him, as a form of therapy, to write his memoirs; and in doing so, Zeno reconstructs and ultimately reshapes the events of his life into a palatable reality for himself - a reality, however, founded on compromise, delusion, and rationalization.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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