Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9780375727764, 464pp.
Publication Date: February 4, 2003
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.
WILLIAM WEAVER has been the leading translator of Italian writing into English for half a century and several samples of his own work are included in "Open City," Among his previous books is "A Legacy of Excellence: The Story of Villa I Tatti," Weaver divides his year among Italy, New York City, and Annandale-on-Hudson, where he is on the faculty of Bard College.
Elizabeth Hardwick is the author of many books and essays, including "Herman Melville" (Penguin Lives), "Sleepless Nights," and "American Fictions," available as a Modern Library paperback. She lives in New York City.
“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