Italo Svevo pseudonym of the writer Aron Hector Schmitz is considered one of the main exponents of Central European culture.
He was born in Trieste on December 19, 1861 into a family of the Jewish bourgeoisie. In his three novels Una vita (1893), Senilità (1898), and The conscience of Zeno (1923), the salient features of his work are expressed, derived in a compelling way from personal experiences such as the discovery of Freudian psychoanalysis and the cultural period where he lived.
In 1907 the meeting and friendship with his English teacher the Irish writer James Joyce awakened in him the confidence in his artistic abilities. When Italian critics ignored “Zeno’s Conscience” in 1923, Joyce, whose publication of “Ulysses” in 1922 had made him the voice of modernity, summoned Parisian critics to applaud Zeno. The fame and recognition of the value of his works came in the last years of Svevo’s life, broken on 13 September 1928 by the consequences of a road accident.
The civic museum of Italo Svevo was inaugurated on December 19 (the date of the day on which Svevo’s birthday is celebrated every year at the museum with an event) in 1997. The museum was born from the decision of Letizia Svevo Fonda Savio, daughter of the writer, to donate the precious patrimony of objects and papers to the Civic Library of Trieste, frequented by his father in his youth, and in which a “Swabian room” already existed. Unfortunately, most of the personal possessions, which belonged to the writer, and also the manuscripts of his three novels were destroyed during the air raid that hit the villa and factory of the Venetians, the family of Italo Svevo’s wife on February 20, 1945.
The few objects that have reached the museum, however, have had a great importance in the life of the writer and, in particular, the bookcase-cabinet characterized by the monogram with the intertwined initials engraved on the doors; the violin on which Svevo practiced for many years and with which he performed in a quartet during some private concerts and the gold pen that Livia, his wife, gave him on the occasion of their engagement.