Memoir of Italo Svevo

Cloth Text – $28.95

ISBN 978-0-910395-57-1
Publication Date
July 1990
Page Count
178 pages
Trim Size
5 3/4 x 8 3/4

Memoir of Italo Svevo

Livia Veneziani Svevo

Writer Italo Svevo had many things in common with other writers: a long struggle for recognition; a friendship with a noteworthy author (in Svevo's case, James Joyce); and a long list of neuroses. His choice of a wife, however, was anything but common. Livia Veneziani Svevo tirelessly worked on her husband's behalf after his tragic early death and also penned this remarkable portrait of a serious artist and a loving (if quirky) marriage. Memoir of Italo Svevo tells the story of how a successful middle-aged businessman, as obsessed with smoking as with his abandoned literary ambitions, somehow became one of the great authors of the twentieth century.

About the Author
Livia Veneziani Svevo was born in 1874 to a family of middle-class Catholics. After a childhood spent partly in Marseille, she returned to Trieste with her family in 1885. At age eighteen she struck up a friendship with a distant Jewish cousin named Ettore Schmitz (Italo Svevo), a bank employee and would-be writer thirteen years her senior. They married in 1896. Declared a Jew under Italian racial laws, she fled Trieste during World War II and wrote Memoir of Italo Svevo while in hiding.
"As an introduction to this appealing author . . . this concise memoir cannot be bettered: it is affectionate, informative and a pleasure to read."
--Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
"Ettore Schmitz, better known as Italo Svevo, was clearly lucky in his wife. Rather than burning his papers or burnishing his reputation (he is among the very best twentieth-century novelists), she set down her recollections of an ambiguous man with clarity and punctiliousness. Literary history as it should be writ, without flourishes."
--Keith Botsford, Bostonia
"[T]he book is a small triumph. It paints a memorable, but not uncritical, portrait of the man and the writer, the two complementing one another."

"This loving yet objective reminiscence by his wife of 33 years limns an obsessive self-analyzer and chain smoker who was successful in business but frustrated in his literary pursuits until shortly before his death in 1928, when James Joyce, who claimed to have been greatly influenced by him and was his English-language tutor in Trieste, promoted his writings. . . . [A] serene, sparkling memoir."
--Publishers Weekly