Zeno’s Conscience

Translated by William Weaver.
Started and finished this one in Mexico. I was driven to read this because of the drawings by William Kentridge on display at the Met– Zeno at 4AM.
Zeno a comic figure who indulges himself and lives a pleasant life.
Smoke: several thousand declarations of “Last Cigarette!” with the date and circumstances. Zeno tries to quit smoking, convinces his wife to lock him up for a cure, and immediately becomes paranoid that his wife & the doctor are having an affair. Locked in a cell, he begins drinking with his gatekeeper and slips out the jail when she gets trashed.
My Father’s Death: “15.4.1890. My father dies. L.C.” as in last cigarette. Zeno’s father waits up for him for dinner, and when Zeno gets home late, sits up with him. Zeno’s surliness is later regretted when his father ends up having an anurism that night. A doctor applies leeches to the father to restore him to consciousness, where he lingers for a few days, then reproaches his son, “I’m dying!” before crumpling to the floor.
The Story of my Marriage: Zeno meets Giovanni as he tries to learn the business world. Eventually making the acquaintance of his daughters, Zeno sets his sights on marrying one of them. “The idea of marrying may therefore have come to me from the weariness of emitting and hearing always that one note.” He falls desparately for Ada, who has no interest in him, and spends the next several months in daily visits to the house entertaining the 3 girls (Ada, Alberta, and Augusta) while the youngest (Anna) tells him he is crazy and will be locked up. After rejections from Ada and Alberta, Augusta agrees to marry him. Guido the slick violin playing suitor wins Ada, so the foursome chaperone each other in their respective engagements.
Wife and Mistress: life with Augusta turns out to be splendid, and Zeno loves her greatly. But then naturally continues to pursue other women, namely Carla.
The Story of a Business Partnership: probably my favorite of the sections. Details Zeno’s relationship with Guido, who has a mistress in Carmen, the business secretary. Fishing, hunting, and Ada’s illness that takes away her beauty. Guido and Zeno dream up plans for the business but their less-than great acumen nearly bankrupts the firm. Guido attempts suicide once unsucessfully, then once later on, sucessfully.
Psychoanalysis: Zeno wraps up his journal with some slings at the doctor who forced him to write it


auth=Svevo, Italo
pub=1923