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This review is taken from PN Review 87, Volume 19 Number 1, September - October 1992.

TRACES FROM TRIESTE Livia Veneziani Svevo, Memoir of Italo Svevo translated by Isabel Quigley (Libris) £9.95

Libris's attempted retrieval of Joyce's sometime frère Edouard Dujardin (reviewed in a recent issue of P·N·R) seems to have stimulated this comparable venture into more familiar territory, though even with Svevo it is possible to feel that his celebrity is constantly in need of resuscitation. 'Attempts have been made', writes P.N. Furbank in the brief sketch he contributes to this memoir by way of preface, 'to claim Svevo for a variety of sectional interests - for Triestine regionalism, Italian irredentism, and "eternal Jewishness" - usually with an unspoken rebuke for not having shown more commitment. But equally', Furbank continues, 'he has suffered from a kind of disowning', with the Italians feeling 'perhaps a touch of resentment at having had him thrust upon them by foreign critics'. Coming at Svevo, as most of us do, by way of Joyce, in effect contributes to perpetuating both these regrettable tendencies, since Svevo is very obviously of a different order of excellence, though much too good a writer to be remembered merely as a possible model for Leopold Bloom. The approach from within which animates his wife's memoir of their life together from 1896, the year they married, until his death in 1928 puts matters in a much more favourable perspective, especially with such a generous selection of passages from Svevo's own intimate letters, and of material from his private diaries and notebooks.

Assisted by the Triestine poet Lina Galli in the very unpropitious circumstances of fleeing persecution by fascists in ...


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