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The Nice Old Man and the Pretty Girl

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Part of The Art of the Novella

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.

ITALO SVEVO, one of Italy’s great Modernists, was unrecognized in his own country until James Joyce befriended the writer and championed his work. His three novels, A LifeEmilio’s Carnival and Zeno’s Conscience, are all recognized as masterpieces of Italian literature.

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