“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others…”*
One of a wonderful series of Faces in Things.
* Jonathan Swift
As we endeavor to follow Schopenhauer’s good advice, we might send amusing birthday greetings to Aron Ettore Schmitz; he was born on this date in 1861. Much better known by his pen name, Italo Svevo (though not so nearly well known as he deserves to be), Schmitz was a successful businessman and aspiring writer who drew James Joyce as an English tutor during Joyce’s sojourn as a Berlitz instructor in Trieste. Joyce admired Schmitz’s first (and largely ignored) novel Senilità. Years later Schmitz failed to find an Italian publisher for his second novel and ultimately self-published; Joyce, by then in Paris, had the text translated into French and intervened with his publisher to secure a release. The novel, La Coscienza di Zeno (The Confessions of Zeno, or Zeno’s Conscience as a later English translation has it) was such a critical success that the then-dean of Italian critics, Eugenio Montale, discovered it, and Schmitz’s novel got a commercial release in Italy.
Zeno Cosini, the novel’s hero, a businessman fascinated by Freudian theory, mirrored Schmitz– who was also a model for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Joyce’s Ulysses.