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The Last Cigarette

John Bayley, 27 July 1989

Memoir of Italo Svevo 
by Livia Veneziani Svevo, translated by Isabel Quigly.
Libris, 178 pp., £17.95, April 1989, 1 870352 40 8
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... In the context of modern culture ‘ordinary people’ are not seen as individuals but as representative embodiments of the right sort of social attitudes. Modernism also saw them in the mass, and disliked or ignored it: D.H. Lawrence, like Wyndham Lewis, made a principle out of such generalised contempt. As an ordinary person one would perhaps rather be despised by Modernism than recruited into the socialist pantheon, for there are at least two great writers, usually counted as Modernists, in whose work ordinariness achieves a highly individual and idiosyncratic literary status – James Joyce and Italo Svevo ...

Full of Words

Tim Parks: ‘Arturo’s Island’, 15 August 2019

Arturo’s Island 
by Elsa Morante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Pushkin, 370 pp., £9.99, May 2019, 978 1 78227 495 7
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... Italy’s most prestigious literary prize, the Strega, and becoming a bestseller in the US in Isabel Quigly’s 1959 translation. Now the book appears in a new translation by Ann Goldstein. Comparing their versions, one is struck by how differently two people can read the same text. Morante begins her story with Arturo remembering his childish ...

Mixed Feelings

James Wood: Italo Svevo’s Last Cigarette, 3 January 2002

Zeno's Conscience 
by Italo Svevo, edited by William Weaver.
Everyman, 437 pp., £12.99, November 2001, 1 85715 249 2
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Memoir of Italo Svevo 
by Livia Veneziani Svevo, translated by Isabel Quigly.
Northwestern, 178 pp., $15.95, June 2001, 0 8101 6084 6
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Emilio's Carnival 
by Italo Svevo, translated by Beth Archer Brombert.
Yale, 233 pp., £22.50, October 2001, 0 300 09049 8
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... Here is a characteristic piece of comedy from the Book of Scottish Anecdote (seventh edition, 1888). A gentleman upbraids his servant: is it true, he asks him, that you have had the audacity to spread around the idea that your master is stingy? No, no, replies the servant, you won’t find me doing that kind of thing: ‘I aye keep my thoughts to mysel ...

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