Every thought of writing your autobiography?
The reason I ask is that on Monday we’ll be publishing the fourth in our series of ‘easy reader ebook’ versions of classics from the canon of Italian literature.
We did the mad puppet, Pinocchio, the even madder spoilt rich kid, Moscarda (Uno, nessuno e cento mila) and most recently a soap opera of picturesque misery set in a nineteenth century Sicilian fishing village.
Next up is Italo Svevo’s ‘La coscienza di Zeno’, another spoilt rich kid but this time with the benefits of Freudian-style psycho-analysis. It’s Zeno’s doctor, in fact, who suggests he sit down and write his autobiography.
I’ve just been leafing through the first pages of the original, which is available free online (here, and in other places.)
We learn at the beginning of the text that the story is being published by said doctor, who is annoyed, to say the least, that his patient has quit therapy, believing himself to be ‘cured’ and so depriving this learned man of the satisfaction of seeing the success that he is convinced will result from his cutting-edge psychiatry.
Doctor S. hopes that releasing Zeno’s musings on an unsuspecting world will embarass and disgrace his former patient. I guess we shall see if he’s correct!
Chapter 2 sees Zeno sit down with a pen and a sheet of paper and attempt to write, with not much success, as sleep overcomes him each time he tries.
So in Chapter 3 the doctor advises Zeno:
“Scriva! Scriva! Vedrà come arriverà a vedersi intero.”
(“Write! Write! You’ll see how you come to see the whole of yourself.” – my translation…)
Helpfully, Doctor S. suggests a topic to get the inexperienced author started: Zeno’s crippling addiction to cigarettes.
And off we go! The story of Zeno’s sad, sick life, told humorously apparently, beginning with the tale of how he developed his nicotine vice (to spite his father, basically.)
Don’t be put off that the liberliber free version has over five hundred pages – that’s just because the font is so large, to be kinder to those of us with middle-aged eyes, I presume.
Yesterday I was browsing in a bookshop here in Bologna and came across a paper copy, which was only two hundred and eighty pages long (though with a much smaller font that I couldn’t easily make out.) So a walk in the park!
As I said, our simplifed ‘easy reader’ will be out on Monday. That one’s just 25 pages or so and is written for students at intermediate level and above. Who knows? Perhaps it’ll be a case of ‘less is more’, at least from the point of view of getting into the habit of reading in and listening to Italian (there’s online audio.) Can’t do any harm, anyhow.
And of course, there’s Thursday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news to listen to, over at EasyItalianNews.com. That’s free, too.
Now I’ve got to crack on with the final 70 pages or so of ‘I Malavoglia’. Well done, by the way, to Simeon and Lynne, who’ve already finished it and both commented that it was worth it in the end. Truly they are the elite special forces of the club’s literature division!
A lunedì, allora.