Arts & Entertainment

Italo Svevo, Old and Young

New York Review of Books

Sponsored by Hirmer Publishers

Nathaniel Rich
‘The Italian Proust’

Italo Svevo’s late fiction has all the dark irony, self-flagellating introspection, manic obsessiveness, and unapologetic moral perversity of his best-known work.

Phoebe Chen
Perfect Recall

In Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s new film, a Scottish orchidologist moves through Colombia in pursuit of a lone, mysterious sound.

Vivian Gornick
‘What We Want Is to Start a Revolution’

Formed in Greenwich Village in 1912 for “women who did things—and did them openly,” the Heterodoxy Club laid the groundwork for a century of American feminism.

Joe Bucciero
Clear but Not Cold

An exhibition at the Centre Pompidou explores the contradictions of a Weimar-era cultural movement that strove for fidelity “to positive palpable reality.”

Jennifer Wilson
The First Russian

An unfinished novel about his African great-grandfather provides the best sense of how Pushkin considered his own Blackness.

Joshua Leifer
An Uneasy Alliance in Jerusalem

This November’s parliamentary elections will in large part be a referendum on the participation of Palestinian-Arabs as equals to Jews in Israel’s political process.

Free from the Archives

In an essay published on the Review’s website yesterday,  “‘The Italian Proust,’” Nat Rich examines A Very Old Man, Italo Svevo’s last, unfinished novel, and celebrates the “dark irony, self-flagellating introspection, manic obsessiveness, and unapologetic moral perversity” that “cackle from every page.” In the magazine’s September 26, 2002, issue, J.M. Coetzee wrote about Svevo’s three finished novels—the early works Una Vita (A Life) and Senilità (As a Man Grows Older) and the midcareer masterpiece La Coscienza di Zeno (Zeno’s Conscience)—and about Svevo (né Aron Ettore Schmitz) himself, a Triestine varnishmaker who learned English from James Joyce.

J.M. Coetzee
The Genius of Trieste

“Our sense of not being at home in the world, suggests Svevo, results from a certain unfinishedness in our evolution. To escape this melancholy state, some adapt more or less successfully to their environment. Others prefer not to adapt. The unadapted may look from the outside like nature’s rejects, yet paradoxically they may be better fitted than their well-adjusted neighbors to whatever the unpredictable future will bring.”



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