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Day 13

Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo

p. 253—p. 271 (end of chapter)

September 25, 2022 by Claire Messud

Zeno, incorrigible liar, pretends to Carla that Ada is his wife: “I may have thought that the more beautiful she found my wife, the more she would appreciate the man who sacrificed… such a woman to her.”

The hall of mirrors becomes a little dizzying: Carla has taken to calling Zeno “Dario”; she thinks that Ada is Augusta. Zeno feels Carla’s judgements about his wife are unfair (although he has made her believe Ada is his wife): “Therefore Carla was really unfair in judging me.”

Just like his many “Last Cigarettes” Zeno’s breakup with Carla is not, in his mind, final. She, meanwhile, commits to marry Lali, and refuses Zeno’s money and advances with dignity. As for him: “I was returning to that great solitude where there was no Carla.” Hmm. That would be married life with Augusta and their daughter…

Daily Reading

Day 1

p. 3 (Preface)—p. 20 (“I was too busy missing other things.”)

Day 2

p. 20—p. 37 (“But I would have been amazed to see him really happy, alone and old as he was.”)

Day 3

p. 37—p. 60 (end of “My Father’s Death”)

Day 4

p. 61—p. 80 (“It’s surely easier to change oneself than to reshape others.”)

Day 5

p. 80—p. 98 (“On the crowded Via Cavana, therefore, I had thought more purposefully than in my solitary study.”)

Day 6

p. 98–p. 117 ("'Good for you, Zeno. You’ve earned your keep.’”)

Day 7

p. 117—p. 139 (“all the flotsam accumulated in my nerves would have been swept away by it.”)

Day 8

p. 140—p. 162 (“unless it was crushed beneath an entire speeding train.”)

Day 9

p. 162—p. 185 (“I had found something more than a mere pretext for doing what it was my desire to do.”)

Day 10

p. 185—p. 209 (“I continued acting the sick man.”)

Day 11

p. 209— p. 232 (“wine shouts it, overlooking whatever life has subsequently added.”)

Day 12

p. 232—p. 253 (“but on some crowded city street”)

Day 13

p. 253—p. 271 (end of chapter)

Day 14

p. 272–p. 296 (“I would not torment myself any more for having wanted to play that false role of Mentor.”)

Day 15

p. 296—p. 318 (“the Ada who had scornfully repulsed me no longer existed, unless my medical books were mistaken.”)

Day 16

p. 318—p. 336 (“But did that axiom apply also to Guido?”)

Day 17

p. 336—p. 357 (“…unless I was supported by all the members of the family.”)

Day 18

p. 358— p. 378 (“I would say this to Ada herself at the first opportunity.”)

Day 19

p. 378—p. 394 ("I would find, at tomorrow’s opening, the high level of that morning.”)

Day 20

p. 394—p. 418 (“…I must throw away these playthings.”)

Day 21

p. 418—End

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