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Day 19

Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo

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

October 1, 2022 by Claire Messud

The series of mishaps that lead to Guido’s death are worthy of Zeno at his most absurd—each small failing or obstacle compounds the situation, from the maid’s loss of the note for the doctor in the rainstorm (the doctor named “Mali,” which in Italian means “evils”), to Zeno’s failure to reproach said doctor for his negligence…

Zeno’s great secret is that he knows Guido didn’t intend to die, having himself explained to Guido the distinction between veronal and sodium veronal. But he also blames the entire Malfenti family, for encouraging Guido to gamble on the Bourse: “He died for a crime committed by all of them together,” and only Zeno was ready (if a little slow!) to help him.

Just as he missed Copler’s death and Ada and Guido’s wedding to be with Carla, Zeno misses Guido’s funeral because, his attention on the Bourse, he follows the wrong funeral procession… his capacity for deflection and emotional avoidance is endlessly impressive!

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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