The Nice Old Man and the Pretty Girl (The Art of the Novella)

ISBN 10: 1933633891 / ISBN 13: 9781933633893
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Synopsis: ...the sin of an old man is equal to about two sins of a young man.

The fable-like story of an old man's sexual obsession with a young woman is a distillation of Italo Svevo's concerns--attraction of an older man to a younger woman, individual conscience versus social convention, and the cost of sexual desire. This novella is a marvel of psychological insight, following the man's vacillations and tortuous self-justifications to their tragic-comic end. It is presented here in a translation first commissioned and published by Virginia Woolf for her Hogarth Press.

The Art of The Novella Series

Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.

About the Author: Italo Svevo, born Ettore Schmitz in 1861, was the son of a well-off Jewish couple in Trieste. When his father’s glassware business collapsed, teenaged Svevo took a job in a bank to help, abandoning his studies but not his desire to become a writer. He stayed at the bank for 20 years, concurrently writing books no one would publish. Finally, at 32, he self-published a novel, Una vita, under his pseudonym – meaning “An Italian of Swabia” – and five years later another, Senilità. Both were failures, and Svevo gave up publishing for the next 25 years. In 1898 he went to work for his father-in-law, a paint-manufacturer. Because the company did business in England, he signed up for English lessons at the local Berlitz School and was assigned a young James Joyce as his teacher. The two became so close that Joyce modeled the protagonist of Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, on Svevo. In 1923 Svevo self-published another novel, La Coscienza di Zeno. The autobiographical story of a man undergoing Freudian analysis while trying to quit smoking is now seen, like Svevo’s other works, as a pioneering work of psychoanalytic and stream-of-consciousness narrative. Joyce got it published in France -- where it was a hit -- but couldn’t interest an English publisher before Svevo, in 1928, was struck by a car while crossing the street. He died a few days later. Refused a cigarette on his deathbed, his last words were reportedly, “That would definitely have been my last cigarette.”
 
Lacy Collison-Morley (1876-1958) was a translator also known for his books on Italian Literature and Greek and Roman Mythology.

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