Italo Svevo and literature as hygienic practice.


Svevo's "discovery" (this was Gramsci's opinion1) is not Italian. He was discovered by Joyce, his personal friend, who was the first to appreciate Senilit?* and to give a perfectly fitting who was the first to appreciate Senilit?* and to give a perfectly fitting critical judgment on La my paper writer coscienza di Zeno. This judgment, in decades ahead of the next most important directions of research (the letter in which he is dated 30-1-1924), is as follows: "For now, two things interest me. The
theme: I never thought that smoking could dominate a person in that way; second, the treatment of time in the novel2". It seems obvious, now, that smoking (i.e. Zeno's illness, and not his life) constitutes the "theme" of the novel.
psychoanalytic criticism, in Italy, will come to the same conclusion only in the 1970s.3
And even the treatment of time is a problem that will be adequately addressed only from '59-'99.
properly addressed only from '59-'60.


It was Joyce, in 1925, who pointed out to the French critics Benjamin Crémieux and Valéry Larbaud The Conscience of Zeno, which, published at the expense of the author two years earlier, had repeated the total failure of the two previous novels. The echo of this report arrived in Italy and pushed Montale to ask the poet and critic Roberto Bazlen from Trieste a copy of Svevo's works. So Montale came to the discovery of Svevo on solicitation of foreign critics. It is not without significance that it was a great European writer great European writer such as Joyce who discovered Svevo, since Svevo is decidedly outside the Italian tradition, and outside the Italian tradition, and it is therefore natural that in Italy his work has not had the echo it would have deserved. It is also significant that the first Italian who wrote about Svevo, recognizing his greatness, was Montale, who was about thirty years old and about thirty years old and was far from the notoriety he later had and, above all, he certainly did not represent the literary establishment.


certainly did not represent the literary establishment of the time.
Svevo spoke of his relationships with the Italian literary milieu in very icastic terms: he said that his novels "were like a piece of garlic in the kitchen of people who cannot eat it4". Svevo's work continued to give off the scent of garlic in the salons of the Italian literary world.


Svevo's work continued to emanate it well beyond 1925. The "bad writing" of which he was accused had nothing to do with it. has nothing to do with it. Born into a German-Jewish family living in Trieste, Svevo expressed himself in the Triestine dialect, which is why he was able to write in this language.
dialect, so Italian always appeared to him as a foreign language; but this circumstance, forcing him to
circumstance, forcing him to pay continuous attention to his writing, favored the experimental character
experimental character and also the formal rigor of his fiction. The main lab report order reason
of the hostility or indifference of the official critics of his time lies, however, more than in the
occasional errors of syntax, more often than not justified by expressive reasons, in the
that Svevo, both for the topics of his novels and for the formal choices, was far from the Italian tradition.
far from the Italian tradition. The cultural and specifically literary experiences
and specifically literary experiences that he refers to are mostly located outside of Italy, and come to him thanks to the
particular geographical and political position of Trieste that, until its annexation to Italy, to all
to Italy, to all intents and purposes was part of that area of encounters and experimentations that was the
Mitteleuropa. But at the origin of the incompatibility between Svevo and the Italian literary milieu
there is also another factor, and that is the ostentatiously "private" character of his writing experience.
of writing