Zeno, an unsuccessful businessman with very high self-regard living in Trieste (eastern edge of Italy) in the first couple decades of the Twentieth century, is in therapy and decides to write down his memories. He talks about dithering between chemistry and law in school, his unending attempts to have "one last cigarette," his affairs, his marriage to the third of the sisters he asked to wed him, and the disastrous business he went into with a brother-in-law. His tale is obsessive, whiny, self-deluding, and often amusing, though with a decidedly depressing bent. Published in Italian in 1923 and first translated into English in 1930, this book occasionally reminds one mildly of Catch-22: "I was ready to accept insults readily, so long as they were accompanied by an affection that I knew I did not deserve"; and, of the hero and his wife: "Was not our mutual indifference demonstrated by the existence of the children we both produced so regularly?"
This report prepared by David Loftus