Italo Svevo (1861-1928)

My disease became an obsession, a dream, almost a nightmare to me. It must have originated in a certain line of reasoning; by perversion we mean a deviation from health, the kind of health which was ours during part of our life. Now I knew what Ada had been like when in good health. Might not her perversity lead her to love me whom she had spurned when she was well?

-- From Confessions of Zeno

Italo Svevo was the pseudonym of Italian novelist Ettore Schmitz, b. Dec. 19, 1861, d. Sept. 13, 1928, author of A Life (1892; Eng. trans., 1963), As a Man Grows Older (1898; Eng. trans., 1932), and The Confessions of Zeno (1923; Eng. trans., 1930), regarded as his masterpiece. These works, which pioneer in the use of stream-of-consciousness narrative and thought analysis, are often called the forerunners of the modern psychoanalytic novel and have been compared with works by Proust and Joyce. Svevo's works were greatly admired by Joyce, who was instrumental in bringing Svevo's writing to the attention of the public.

Louis Kibler

Bibliography: Furbank, Phillip N., Italo Svevo: The Man and the Writer (1966); Gatt-Rutter, J., Italo Svevo: A Double Life (1988); Moloney, Brian, Italo Svevo: A Critical Introduction (1974).

Text Copyright © 1993 Grolier Incorporated

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