Emilio’s Carnival (Senilità)

Italo Svevo; A new translation by Beth Archer Brombert, with an introduction by Victor Brombert

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October 11, 2001
262 pages, 5 x 8
ISBN: 9780300090499
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

Italo Svevo’s early novel Senilità (1898) remained unknown for many years until James Joyce encountered the novelist in Trieste and came to admire Senilità as a preeminent modern Italian novel. Joyce helped to launch Svevo’s career, and years later Svevo achieved great fame with his masterpiece, Confessions of Zeno.

In Senilità, Svevo tells the story of the amorous entanglement of Emilio, a failed writer already old at thirty-five, and Angiolina, a seductively beautiful but promiscuous young woman. A study in jealousy and self-torment, the novel traces the intoxicating effect of a narcissistic and amoral woman on an indecisive daydreamer who vacillates between guilt and moral smugness. The novel is suffused with a tragic sense of existence, and the unbreachable distance between one consciousness and another. Svevo’s unmistakably modern voice subtly captures rapid shifts in mood and intention, exploiting irony, indirection, and multiple points of view to reveal Emilio’s increasing anguish as he comes to recognize the dissonance between himself and his world.

Italo Svevo (1861–1928), né Ettore Schmitz, was born in Trieste and lived there all of his life. His other works include Una Vita (1892), Confessions of Zeno (1923), several collections of short stories, and plays. Beth Archer Brombert is a professional translator and author. Her most recent book is Edouard Manet, Rebel in A Frock Coat. Victor Brombert is Henry Putnam University Professor of Romance and Comparative Literatures, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He has written numerous books, including, most recently, In Praise of Antiheroes: Figures and Themes in Modern European Literature.

Senilità is unquestionably a classic, a masterpiece by a great writer and Italo Svevo’s best work. Beth Archer Brombert’s translation is excellent and catches the simple and enigmatic quality of Svevo’s prose. It will gain many readers for this classic novel and will not be replaced for a long, long time.”—Giuseppe Mazzotta, Yale University





“This publication is an important, welcome event. Svevo’s almost unknown masterpiece, Senilità, is now available in a fresh, deft, new translation by Beth Archer Brombert. Victor Brombert’s introduction aptly places Svevo and the novel in the great European tradition.”—William Weaver, Bard College

“[A] splendid and lucid new translation.”—James Wood, London Review of Books
 

“[Svevo] deserves to be read in order that we might better understand our weak and desirous selves, laughing and suffering at once. Senilitá is a fine tale, in its precise and tightly structured portrait of a weak man and the toll of his fantasy life upon the reality of others.”—Claire Messud, The New Republic
 

“Svevo has constructed a tragically brilliant essay on the conflict between natural inclination and moral discipline.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

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