SVEVO, ITALO (pen name of Ettore Schmitz; 1861–1928), Italian novelist. Svevo's mother was an Italian, his father an Austrian. He was educated in Germany, and on returning to his native Trieste worked as a bank clerk. From 1889 he was a partner in an industrial concern which he managed until his death, carefully separating his business from his literary life. After publishing two unsuccessful novels, Una vita (1892; A Life, 1963) and Senilità (1898; As a Man Grows Older, 1932), Svevo immersed himself in commerce for over 20 years. His talent was first discovered by the Irish writer James Joyce, who spent some time in Trieste from 1903 onward. Their friendship was mutually fruitful, and the correspondence between the two novelists, Carteggio inedito Italo Svevo-James Joyce, was published in 1949. It was as a result of the favorable attention it attracted in England and France that Svevo's masterpiece,
Svevo's colloquial style was something of an innovation in Italian writing. His cosmopolitan background and education undoubtedly contributed to his unique position in his country's literature. Immediately before and after his death in an automobile accident some of his short novellas were published. They include Una burla riuscita (1928; The Hoax, 1929) and La novella del buon vecchio e della bella fanciulla (1929; The Nice Old Man and the Pretty Girl, 1930), both successfully combining pessimism with humor and gentle irony. Two other posthumous publications are his Corto viaggio sentimentale (1949; Short Sentimental Journey and Other Stories, 1967), a collection of novellas; and a volume of essays, Saggi e pagine sparse (1954). His collected works, edited by B. Maier, appeared in 1954 (in English, 1962ff.).
M. Penter, Italo Svevo (It., 1936); G. Spagnoletti, La Giovinezza e la formazione letteraria di Italo Stevo (1953); B. Maier, Profilo della critica su Italo Svevo (1954); E. Levi, in: Scritti… Sally Mayer (1956), 122–38; idem, Opere di Italo Svevo (1958), preface; L. Veneziani Svevo, Vita di mio marito (19582); A.L. de Castris, Italo Svevo (It., 1959); R. Ellman, James Joyce (Eng., 1959), index; G. Luti, Italo Svevo (It., 1961); Roditi, in: Svevo, Confessions of Zeno (1962), 7–25; M. Forti, Svevo romanziere (1966); P.N. Furbank, Italo Svevo (Eng., 1966). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Voghera, Gli anni della psicanalisi (1980), 45–51 and passim; H. Stuart Hughes, Prisoners of Hope (1983), 33–42; P. Puppa, "Italo Svevo. La scrittura in scena," in: M. Carlà and L. De Angelis, L'ebraismo nella letteratura italiana del Novecento (1995), 33–42; L. De Angelis, "La reticenza di Aron. Letteratura e antisemitismo in Italo Svevo," in: ibid., 43–85.
[Joseph Baruch Sermoneta /
Ariel Rathaus (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.