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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can't see what all the fuss is about, 26 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Zeno's Conscience (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Why is this an Italian classic?

I just don't get it. It's a pedestrian, plodding account of a man's adulteries and business incompetencies in pre-WW1 Trieste. The character is not likable, the events not interesting. Maybe the language has some special quality in Italian? The translator doesn't think so, in his note at the beginning of the book.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Dec 2013, 23:59:40 GMT
"The character is not likable"... I must have read this sentence hundreds of times here on Amazon. Why don't people understand that great novels do not need to have likable characters?
"... the events not interesting". This is a "psychoanalytic" novel - and one of the very first of its kind. This is literature imitating life imitating literature, not a novel full of mysteries and adventures. You don't read this book for the events it tells, but for understanding what human soul is.

Vincenzo Politi

Posted on 9 Apr 2016, 15:05:00 BST
Mr Politi - although I'd tend to agree in general with your comment, I don't think you're wholly fair to the reviewer. The bottom line is that Jezza didn't like the book. I really don't like this kowtowing to 'great novels' and literature, even though I like a lot of great novels. It's as if we should like it and attempt desperately to understand it because it has been deemed a great novel. The reviewer is fully entitled to say what he likes and it has as much value as any other review, even those by people knowledgeable about literature. The type of comment you made is quite common on Amazon and frustrates me somewhat. I really wish people would respect others' opinions, and not get on their high horse if it doesn't match their own.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2016, 15:48:35 BST
Dear mr. Peter Sullivan,

thank you for your comment. I was replying to a comment which was entitled "Can't see what the fuss is about" and the reasons for why the author of that comment could not see what "the fuss is about" were that the characters are not likeable and that the events were not interesting enough. I agree that not everybody should like a novel just because it has been deemed (by critics and a long scholarship) a "great novel". But at least we should be able to see that sometimes, the "fuss" about great novels cannot be reduced to whether its characters are "likeable" or to the number of adventurous and page-turning events narrated -- no matter whether we like the end result or not.

Vincenzo

Posted on 9 Apr 2016, 16:05:59 BST
Vincenzo - thanks for replying. Certainly it shouldn't be judged according to the page-turning events and the like. In fact I tend to gravitate towards novels which have a dearth of such events. Likeability, I'm much more unsure about. Hard, at least for me, to judge if I like or dislike a character. Even in apparently disliking a character, he or she may be interesting or fascinating and in a sense, therefore, likeable because of that. Moot point I suppose. Doctor Glas in the novel of the same name, springs to mind. Thanks again. Your reply was useful to me.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Apr 2016, 12:24:12 BST
You are very welcome and thank you very much for your kind and polite reply! :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Apr 2016, 09:14:57 BST
Jezza says:
Well, thank you both for being so temperate and considered about this. I really didn't like the book, even though I understand it is well thought of. I've liked and appreciated other books where the characters are all loathsome, so it's not only that. It just didn't do anything for me. I wasn't attempting to add to the sum of critical understanding, just record my own impressions, as much for myself as anyone else. You can see some of my other reviews if you like, to see that I don't only respond negatively, but also to see that I don't always enjoy 'great literature'. Don't get me started on 'The Man Without Qualities'. Best wishes to you both.
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