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Esman, A. (2001). Italo Svevo and the First Psychoanalytic Novel. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(6):1225-1233.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(6):1225-1233

Italo Svevo and the First Psychoanalytic Novel

Aaron Esman

The first fictional work that used psychoanalysis as a central plot device was La Coscienza di Zeno (Confessions of Zeno), published in 1923 by Ettore Schmitz, a Triestino Jewish businessman who wrote under the pseudonym of ‘Italo Svevo’. This paper describes Svevo's background, his relations with such important literary figures as James Joyce and with such central figures in Italian psychoanalysis as Dr Edoardo Weiss. It seeks to demonstrate to the Anglophone reader the particular psychoanalytic elements in the novel and to relate them to Svevo's personal experience (including his indirect contacts with Freud) and to the intellectual currents of the period in a city which had, until the aftermath of the First World War, been a crossroads of European culture.

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