Day 8Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo
p. 140—p. 162 (“unless it was crushed beneath an entire speeding train.”)
September 20, 2022 by Claire Messud
Guido’s caricatures of Zeno are the catalyst for physical pain that “was never thereafter to leave me.” More than Ada’s rejection, Zeno attributes his agony to the fact that Guido’s “drawing [was] so superior to mine.” Not only the superior hair, and the superior violin playing, but also the superior drawing!
Of Guido “speaking ill of women,” Zeno, then shocked, observes, “I know [now] he bursts into abundant discourse on any subject if he thinks he can be sure of pleasing his interlocutor.” Sound like anyone we know? And indeed, Zeno explains that he was too tired to protest—thereby pleasing his interlocutor…
Late for his own wedding because he has been—like many prospective spouses—filled with doubt, Zeno proceeds to blame his tardiness “on three different causes”; and even when saying his vows is “confecting a fourth explanation”—aware that the very number of excuses proves their falsity (a lesson some contemporary political figures could usefully learn).
p. 20—p. 37 (“But I would have been amazed to see him really happy, alone and old as he was.”)
p. 80—p. 98 (“On the crowded Via Cavana, therefore, I had thought more purposefully than in my solitary study.”)
p. 162—p. 185 (“I had found something more than a mere pretext for doing what it was my desire to do.”)
p. 272–p. 296 (“I would not torment myself any more for having wanted to play that false role of Mentor.”)
p. 296—p. 318 (“the Ada who had scornfully repulsed me no longer existed, unless my medical books were mistaken.”)