Trieste Celebrates Svevo’s 162nd Birthday

Photo credits Museo Svevo
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by InTrieste

Trieste has fostered a host of great artists over the centuries, but this progressive, sardonic writer will always be one of city’s favorites.

Born Aron Ettore Schmitz on December 19th 1861, the writer known across the world as Italo Svevo grew up in a bookish half-Italian, half-Jewish-German family in Trieste. Svevo attended boarding school abroad before returning to Trieste to study at Istituto Revoltella, where he further developed his passion for literature.

When the collapse of the family glassware business led him to assume a job as a bank clerk, he continued to read and write, converting to Catholicism to marry his cousin, Livia Veneziani.

Svevo wrote a number of books in a strongly autobiographical style, but is most remembered for La Coscienza di Zeno (Zeno’s conscience; incidentally, this is one of my favourite books), a highly entertaining account of fictional antihero Zeno Cosini and his journey through life and psychoanalysis. Trieste celebrates 100 years of the masterpiece together with Svevo’s birthday this Monday, 19 December.

The book was published in large part due to the help and guidance of his friend James Joyce, who he met in Trieste (Joyce even used Svevo as the model for Bloom in Ulysses). Svevo was actually in his 60s when the book found international fame and recognition, dying only a few years later after a car accident.

Italo Svevo. Photo credit: Svevo Musuem.

This year’s celebrations, which follow the theme of psychoanalysis, are organized by the Svevo Museum and will take place at Museo Revoltella on Tuesday, December 19th.

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