The suicide theme in Svevo's first novel, a matter of ethics, psychology and sociology


  • Mario Sechi Università di Bari Aldo Moro
Keywords: Introspective Novel, Schopenhauer, Svevo, Fin de siècle, Psychiatry and Anthropology


This paper sets out to establish that, besides the fundamental Schopenhauerian inspiration of the work, declared by the author himself and borne out exhaustively by academic research, the  final chapters of the novel Una Vita (1892) converge with a series of studies and theoretical works brought out by doctors and sociologists at the end of the 19th century, from Enrico Morselli (1879) to  Emile Durkheim (1897). What emerges clearly from the depiction of the suicidal instincts of the main character of the novel is an unconscious dynamic based on the fulfilment of a moral imperative, in which throughout is reflected and masked his self-destructive narcissism, a condition Freud was to elucidate in Mourning and Melancholia (1917).

The comparative element of this paper is founded on the thematic and epistemological convergence between narrative discourse on one hand and philosophical and scientific discourse on the other, far from schematic hypotheses of derivation from one or the other, or influence of one on the other or vice versa. In certain respects, the progressive construction of the inept figure, ongoing in Svevo from the outset and leading to the theorization of the human “draft” (1907), or rather of the incompletely evolved man, out of step with social norms, who due to these very characteristics is capable of adapting to the evolutionary processes of modernity, conforms with the most relevant parts of the hypotheses put forward by Durkheim regarding modern neurasthenia and is in close agreement with the approach of Morselli in his studies, who was the first to envision an interpretation of suicide as also but above all a social phenomenon.


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How to Cite
Sechi, M. (2021). The suicide theme in Svevo’s first novel, a matter of ethics, psychology and sociology. Between, 11(21), 238-258.