65 imagesITALY - Trieste a literary identity Trieste in the 19th century was a prosperous seaport in the Mediterranean region and the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this vibrant and cosmopolitan city provided the ideal environment in which artists and writers like James Joyce and Italo Svevo could meet in the city's coffee houses. James Yoyce stayed there teaching English from October 1904 until mid-1909. In 1905 his wife, Nora, gave birth to their first child, George. Aron Ettore Schmitz (1861 -1928), better known by the pseudonym Italo Svevo, was an Italian businessman and writer born in Trieste who wrote the novel La Coscienza di Zeno (Confessions of Zeno, or Zeno's Conscience). Self-published it in 1923, the work might have disappeared if it were not for the efforts of James Joyce that had met Schmitz in 1907 and tutored him in English while working for Berlitz in Trieste. Schmitz, a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of the First World War, spoke Italian as a second language. Confessions of Zeno never looks outside the narrow confines of Trieste, much like Joyce's work, which rarely left Dublin. Umberto Saba (1883 - 1957) was the pseudonym of Triestin poet and novelist Umberto Poli. This choice of pseudonym is thought to be an homage to his Jewish mother, who raised him without the help of his father. In 1919 he purchased an antiquarian bookstore, the Ancient and Modern Bookstore, and in 1921 he self-published the first edition of his Songbook. By 1928 Saba was suffering from depression, and frequently contemplated suicide. In 1938, he was forced to sell his bookstore to a friend, due to the adoption of racial laws by Fascist Italy. The first great critical acclaim of Saba's work was the 1946 award of the Viareggio Prize. Saba's mental state declined from 1950 and he died at the age of 74.
33 imagesItaly - Trieste, a city of legendary literary cafes. Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries the vibrant and cosmopolitan Trieste, part of the Habsburg Empire until 1918, provided the ideal environment in which artists and writers like James Joyce and Italo Svevo could meet in the city's coffee houses. Coffee houses in which till today time seems to have been suspended for over a century. Coffee drinking is an unforsakable ritual for the local people, who has his own vocabulary to describe the various ways of taking it: nero meaning Espresso, capo when a dash of milk is added. A tour of Trieste's literary cafes must necessary start in central square, the magnificent Piazza dell'Unità d'Italia. Here, on the ground floor of the Palazzo Stratti, since 1839 we find the Caffè degli Specchi, a veritable institution around the tables of which artists, writers, politicians and business men have sat for a coffee. Walking along the seafront promenade, we find the nearby Caffè Tommaseo. Opened in 1830 was a favourite haunt of those writers and artists who animated the Mitteleuropean Trieste. With its salons, embellished with classic furnishings and Thonet's legendary chairs, Caffè Tommaseo still conserves the appearance of a traditional Viennese cafe. James Joyce, the Irish novelist who lived in Trieste for over a decade, loved to pass his time at one of the tables of the Caffè Stella Polare. Joyce loved also the sweet delicacies prepared at the Pasticceria Pirona. The writer and philologist Claudio Magris, like many of his literary predecessors, has elected the Antico Caffè San Marco as his second home where it is not unusual to spot him at one of the little tables intent on writing.