James Joyce and Italo Svevo: The Story of a Friendship by Stanley Price - review by Jan Morris

Jan Morris

My Little Town

James Joyce and Italo Svevo: The Story of a Friendship

By

Somerville Press 276pp £14 order from our bookshop
 

This fascinating work of scholarship concerns the association between two great 20th-century writers and the city that brought them together. The writers were the Italian Italo Svevo (1861–1928) and the Irishman James Joyce (1882–1941). The city was Trieste (45˚38’N 13˚46’E).

All three – the two men and the city – were almost equally complex in status, origin, style, condition and intention. To my dilettante mind the governing presence of the triad, binding it together in a kind of posthumous trinity, was the city, standing as it did upon an ethnic and historical fault line, and notorious for its genius loci, a gale-force wind called the bora.

The three of them are properly matched, and for me perhaps the most telling passage in the book (which is essentially a work of advanced cultural reportage) describes the two writers walking together in the city when the bora blew in one day. An eyewitness reported that they clung like

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