Friday, July 30, 2010
Woah. What's going on here? Have you gentlemen been sharing the same hat? Because it looks like you gentlemen have been sharing the same straw or possibly felt hat. Is this some kind of a prank you're pulling? Is this your idea of a joke? Because I'm not laughing.
Oh. Wait a minute. Maybe it's one of those Mean Girls-type things where everyone in your modernist clique wears the same type of hat but then you don't tell any of the uncool kids. James Joyce and Italo Svevo show up to the lunch table wearing the same hat and Thomas Mann, who's wearing a bourgeois bowler hat, gets all embarrassed and runs into the bathroom crying. So that's what this is all about, isn't it? Well, I won't have this sort of mean-spirited indecency running rampant in the hallways of this junior high. Both of you, march yourselves to the principal's office immediately!
The man you see in the upper left-hand corner, ladies and gentlemen, is Italo Svevo, whose Conscienza di Zeno I'm making a semi-valiant attempt at reading. The similarly-hatted man on the right is James Joyce, who was Italo Svevo's patron while the both of them were living in Italy. Svevo, like Joyce, is charmingly misogynistic. Unlike Joyce, Svevo has a severe unibrow. Like Joyce, Svevo had a talent for writing antiheroes whose disenchantment with the European middle class manifests itself in negative physical symptoms or severe alcoholism. Unlike Joyce, Svevo was not an alcoholic.
But like Joyce, Svevo had a well-groomed mustache. So there's that.