Senilità (Italian Edition)

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To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. There he remained for almost twenty years, bored out of his mind. He spent his nights in the dusty reading room of the public library, submitting call slips to a bizarre attendant who, according to the poet Umberto Saba, Svevo's friend, "waited beside a window from which he eventually jumped to his death.

ISBN 13: 9788807901409

The laws of life seemed to him harsh, and those authors agreed. He tried to write—mostly plays, mostly unfinished—but, according to the diary of his brother Elio, the person closest to him, he burned almost everything he produced. When Svevo was twenty-five, Elio died, followed by two of their sisters.

Meanwhile, the father's business had declined precipitously, and the old man wandered around the house like a ghost, some days refusing to eat or speak. Svevo lived in a permanent, low-level melancholy. Two years earlier, he had begun his first novel, "A Life," and it was a mirror of his own life.


  1. stupidità senile - Translation into English - examples Italian | Reverso Context.
  2. Italo Svevo and his literary works.
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  4. Trieste è una donna: Woman and Urban Space in Svevo's Senilità | Quaderni d'italianistica.

It tells the story of Alfonso Nitti, a clerk in a Triestine bank, who spends his evenings in the public library, dreaming of writing books. Alfonso seduces a rich girl whom he does not love. See "The Red and the Black. Some of this is very smartly done, worthy of its French models, but the qualities at the heart of the story actually have little to do with French realism. There is too much grave, personal sorrow— the book throbs like a wound—to be processed by that cold machinery.

Also, Svevo simply did not have enough certainty to join the ranks of Balzac and Zola. Like Joyce and Proust soon afterward, he had discovered the subject of the twentieth-century novel, the self-imprisonment of the mind, but he didn't know how to write anything but a nineteenth-century novel.


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  • Nor, for a while, did he find out. After the failure of "Una Vita," something happened that changed Svevo's life. At his mother's deathbed, a second cousin of his, Livia Veneziani, seeing his distress, brought him a glass of marsala. He had never noticed Livia before.

    Senilità (Italian Edition)

    Now he did. She was blond and kind and rich. Over her parents' objections—he was poor and neurotic and thirteen years her senior—they married in and had a baby, Letizia "Happiness" , the following year. He drove her crazy with his jealousy and hypochondria. Nor could she understand his weird ideas. Also, why did he have to be Jewish? Anti-Semitism wasn't much of an issue in Trieste at that time, and Livia herself was one-quarter Jewish.

    Nevertheless, she was emphatically Catholic, a convent girl. After giving birth to Letizia, she fell ill and was terrified by the thought that she would die with the sin of having married a Jew on her conscience. Svevo gallantly went out and got himself baptized, though he refused to take religious instruction and never, later, described himself as anything but Jewish. After his death, Livia returned the favor.

    In the late thirties, the "race office" in Rome balked at registering her as an Aryan—a problem she was told she could solve with a large bribe. Indignant, she declared herself a Jew. As a result, she had to flee Trieste in She spent the remaining war years in Treviso province, in great danger.

    Yet, whatever their occasional bewilderment with each other, they were a happy couple. When he took Letizia to the fair and came back alone—he was almost pathologically absent-minded—she went and got the child.

    Piero Piccioni - 'Musica del Mare' from SENILITA

    In return, he became a regular person, a family man. According to Svevo, Joyce used to say that a novelist had only one book in him; if he produced more, they were the same book, in a new key. No one demonstrates this principle better than Svevo. With no introductory fuss, we meet the two of them on the first page, walking down the street, as Emilio, pedantically discoursing on his feelings for Angiolina, begins winding himself in a knot of obsession, jealousy, and contempt that will bind him to her for the rest of the book, and as she, tapping her pretty parasol in the gravel, looks at him to judge how she should play this game.

    The novel is perfectly realistic and, again, partly autobiographical. Svevo had had such a girlfriend. She later became a circus performer. As in Proust's tale of Swann and Odette, the love affair is a metaphor.

    "senile" in Italian

    Emilio is the mind; Angiolina is the world. Or, to put it in Svevo's terms, Emilio is "sickness," and Angiolina is "health.

    In other words, this is the same story as "Una Vita," but it is far more concentrated, subtle, and disturbing. As Emilio suffers over Angiolina, his spinster sister, Amalia, by way of participating, falls equally in love with a friend of his who barely notices her. In bed at night, Emilio hears through the walls the love cries she utters in her dreams. At the end, Emilio, having lost both Angiolina and Amalia—Amalia dies, Angiolina runs off with a bank teller—lives on rather comfortably.

    senilità | definition in the Italian-English Dictionary - Cambridge Dictionary

    In his mind, he combines the two women into one, whom he worships: "He saw her before him as on an altar. She represented everything noble that he had thought and observed during that period. There was nothing noble in his relations with either of those women. The novel's irony is heavy; it protests too much.

    One small example: Angiolina has a younger sister, a scrawny little thing whose name we are never given. When we first encounter her, early in the narrative, she is ten years old. She opens the door for Emilio and, seeing a stranger, raises her hand "to close the edges of her jacket across her chest—the buttons were missing.

    He is received by the mother, but she promptly exits, and then the sister, maybe twelve now, enters the room and curtsies. Emilio tells her what he meant to tell her mother, that he will never come again. She protests, and covers his face with "kisses that were anything but childish.

    Emilio is disgusted and gets up to go. But first he leans down and pats the head of the little girl, "whom he did not want to leave disheartened. This is not the stuff of which Zolaesque novels are made.