confessions of zeno knopf Confessions Of Zeno by Italo Svevo. New York. 1930. Knopf. Translated From the Italian By Beryl De Zoete. 407 pages


My favorite book of all time. I have read this book many times over the years and each time I come away with something new. The original American translation of the book done by Beryl De Zoete and published in 1930, has held up well over the years I think. William Weaver published a translation in 2001. I started it but did not get very far. A translation By Dalya M. Sachs was comissioned by Northwestern Unversity Press to be published in 2002, but was withdrawn from publication due reportedly to some sort of copyright issue. That edition featured a lot of annotations and could be very interesting should it ever actually wind up being published. For the time being I think that I will stick to my Beryl De Zoete translation. 




   This is the great modern Italian novel. It is supremely ironical and deals with a delightfully abnormal character. Zeno, happily unconscious of his absurdity, writes an account of his eccentric and entertaining life for a psychoanalyst. He proposes to three sisters in the same evening and is accepted by the least attractive. He rationalizes his relations with his mistress by saying she would not love him, if she knew how much he loved his wife. Incidentally, he never loves his wife as much as when he is with his mistress. He entirely covers the walls of a room with dates, some scribbled in pencil, some painted in glaring colors, each representing the day of his final renunciation of cigarettes. Zeno, accomplished hypochondriac and master of indecision, suffers increasingly from the narcotic effect of his continual introspection, but is so essentially human that he will capture your sympathy and make you laugh, first at him and then at yourself.



Svevo Italo ITALO SVEVO was born in Trieste in 1861 and was given a commercial education in Germany. CONFESSIONS OF ZENO was published in 1923 and was immediately hailed by European critics as the finest Italian novel. At the time of his accidental death in 1928 Svevo was one of the best known and most successful businessmen in Triesie, though he was only beginning to enjoy fame as a writer. UNA VITA, his first novel, appeared in 1892 and was followed by SENILITA in 1898. In 1912 Italo Svevo met James Joyce, and it is Joyce that we have to thank, not only for calling attention to him at that time, but for persuading him to continue writing. The war kept Svevo away from business and gave him the opportunity. The fact that writing was never his means of livelihood made it possible for him to disregard tradition and slowly develop his own introspective style. This style combined with his wholly individual humor makes CONFESSIONS OF ZENO most unusual and engaging.  




de Zoete Beryl Beryl de Zoete was an English ballet dancer, orientalist, and critic. In addition to being a translator of Italo Svevo, she was an innovator in the field of dance. She taught eurhythmics, investigated Indian dance and theatre traditions, and collaborated with Walter Speis on Dance and Drama in Bali. An early marriage to Basil de Selincourt broke down. She then cohabited for many years with Arthur Waley, the noted translator of Chinese classics.













Zeno's Picks


The Neglected Books Page

20 September 2019

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
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