The Diary of Elio Schmitz is a beautiful and moving portrait of an artistic young man living in late nineteenth-century Trieste. It is also the first English translation of the single most important document for anyone interested in the early life of Italo Svevo, Italy’s greatest modern novelist.
Elio Schmitz was the younger brother of Ettore Schmitz, better known today as Italo Svevo, Italy’s greatest modern novelist. Much of what we know about Svevo – about his family and its origins, about his childhood in Trieste, about his temperament and his formation as a writer – we know because Elio Schmitz decided to set it down in his diary.
In Elio, Ettore found a constant, reliable source of appreciation and encouragement, the ideal confidant. Many of the most important moments of this relationship are vividly preserved in The Diary of Elio Schmitz, making it a precious, indispensable account of Svevo’s early years. The relevance of this diary, however, extends beyond the life and work of Italo Svevo, for the picture that Elio Schmitz paints of his family and his city captures all of the contradictions and ambiguities of nineteenth-century Trieste.