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James Joyce and Italo Svevo : The Story of a Friendship

James Joyce and Italo Svevo : The Story of a Friendship

Stanley Price

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James Joyce left Dublin in 1904, bound for Trieste and a job teaching English at the Berlitz School. He was to live there for the next eleven years. Italo Svevo, born and bred in Trieste, worked there for his family’s marine paint company. He had also written two novels, published privately and unsuccessfully. In 1907, wanting to improve his English to do business with the British Admiralty, Svevo went to Berlitz, where Joyce became his teacher. Svevo was then 46 and Joyce 25. Despite their different backgrounds, Irish Catholic and Triestene Jewish, they had, intellectually, much in common.

They admired each other’s writing. Joyce improved Svevo’s English. Svevo helped Joyce stay solvent, and also became the inspiration for Leopold Bloom. In Ulysses, the near father-son relationship between Stephen Dedalus and Bloom in Dublin was very close to that of Svevo and Joyce in Trieste. The two writers lived through the great political and cultural upheavals of the early 20th century, and their story has a fascinating supporting cast – W.B. Yeats and G.B. Shaw, Proust and Hemingway, Freud and Jung, H.G. Wells and T.S. Eliot. Although often living in different cities – Zurich, Paris, London – their friendship survived.

When Ulysses was finally published in Paris in 1922, its success enabled Joyce to help Svevo find a publisher for his great comic masterpiece The Confessions of Zeno. European literature owes a great deal to that meeting in Trieste.

Additional Information

Author Stanley Price
Publisher Somerville Press
Publication date 7 Apr 2016
Format Paperback with flaps
ISBN/EAN 9780992736484

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