As the third event in our series Great Loves, we travel to the Italy of Italo Svevo.

We would probably never have heard of Italo Svevo (pseudonym of Ettore Schmitz (1861-1928), born in Trieste, had he not been taught English by the Irish writer James Joyce (1882-1941) at the beginning of the 20th century. The lessons in Trieste led to an inspiring friendship to which we owe not only Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939) but also Svevo’s later witty novel Confessions of Zeno (1923). James Joyce was so impressed by Svevo’s Senelitá, which had appeared in 1898 but had gone virtually unnoticed, that he personally saw to it that it received literary attention in French translation in the roaring twenties. In 1932, the novel appeared in English with the title Joyce had coined for it: As a Man Grows Older. Both titles suggest that the story is about the kind of love a middle-aged man has for a young woman, but the protagonist Emilio Brentani is only 35. Like Svevo, Emilio is a failed author. He has an unsatisfied desire for love and ‘a certain bitterness at the thought of missing it’. He enters into a dangerous relationship with the slim and sly blonde Angiolina. In this short novel, Svevo explores all the feelings that arise in such an adventure and, above all, gets to know himself better. In this reading, we follow Emilio’s amorous entanglements and try to find out why Joyce was so impressed by Senelità.

Ruud Hisgen, anglicist and literary scholar, is also the owner of the Direct Dutch Institute, teaching Dutch as a second language.

May 26th, 16h00
Breestraat 70
Free entrance

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