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Zeno's Conscience: A Novel Paperback – February 4, 2003
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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“Svevo’s masterpiece . . . [in] a fresh translation by the dean of Italian literary translators.” –Los Angeles Times
“An excellent new rendering [of a] marvellous and original book.”–James Wood, London Review of Books
“A masterpiece, a novel overflowing with human truth in all its murkiness, laughter and terror, a book as striking and relevant today as when it was first published, and a book that is in every good way–its originality included–like life.” –Claire Messud, The New Republic
“Hilarious. . . . Effortlessly inventive and eerily prescient. . . . William Weaver . . . updates the novelist’s idiosyncratic prose with great affection.” –The Atlantic Monthly
“An event in modern publishing. For the first time, I believe, in English, we get the true, dark music, the pewter tints, of Svevo’s great last novel. . . . [Svevo is] a master.” –Joan Acocella, The New Yorker
“[An] exhilarating and utterly original novel. . . . Weaver’s version strikes one as excellent.” –P. N. Furbank, Literary Review
“One of the great comic novels of the twentieth century. . . . [Svevo is] perhaps the most significant Italian modernist novelist.” –The Times Literary Supplement
“[A] neglected masterpiece. Seventy-five years old, the novel feels entirely modern.” –The Boston Globe
“A reason for celebration. . . . If you have never read Svevo, do so as soon as you can. He is beautiful and important.” –New Statesman
“One of the indispensable 20th-century novels. . . . A revolutionary book, and arguably (in fact, probably) the finest of all Italian novels.” –Kirkus Reviews
“No one has done more to make modern Italian literature available in English than William Weaver. . . . [His new translation is] scrupulously accurate.” –Anniston Star
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Italo Svevo's Zeno Cosini is such an odd, interesting, self obsessed character. He is completely oblivious to his own awkwardness. He is a big square peg that thinks he's fitting into a round hole worold when it is completely and utterly untrue. The genius in the writing is that it all comes from Zeno's perspective and still we can gather from the reactions and dialogue with his friends and family, particularly his in-laws that he's more than a strange bird. The writing is so intense that one might feel we're a little too close to Zeno's strange logic and easy self deceptions.
Zeno is not a very good guy. In fact in many ways he is entirely unlikeable. But at the same time so much of what he's thinking has a hint or ring of truth that left me frequently uncomfortable.
And then there are points of almost burst out loud hilarity. After a competitor for the hand of one of lovely women that he's obsessed with has completed a stirring violin solo at the Malfenti household it is Zeno that breaks the silence and crushes the moment with an obtuse technical question on how Guido played that last several notes. It was the classic Woody Allen or Larry David perfectly mistimed and inappropriate line that draws raging stares and leaves Zeno perplexed that his wit and intelligence were not fully welcome and appreciated. There are so many of these finely timed or ill-timed treats where Zeno has either lied, exaggerated or interjected. Depending on reaction he's either caught backtracking, digging a deeper hole or otherwise taking an unpredictable course to recover. But never just the truth, a mea culpa or in any other way taking the humble path. It is filled with painful, awkward and often hilarious vignettes that then come with unexpected consequences of every kind.
The novel takes place sometime before the Great War in Trieste. It's depiction of life, love and work are surprisingly modern. It's not a casual read. I found myself drifting and needing to go back and re-read portions. Although this is a reasonably long book the writing is economic in that you really don't want to miss what Zeno is saying, thinking or doing. There is something worthwhile in each passage.