Valentino Baldi

‘Out of His Body’. Freud, Darwin and the Paradoxes of Civilization in the ‘La coscienza di Zeno’

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Svevo, Freud, Darwin, Civilization, Discontent, Repression.

Through a close reading of Svevo’s and Freud’s works, this essay aims to define the characteristics of a cultural and social discontent rooted in the nineteenth century. A parallel analysis is offered of the last page of La coscienza di Zeno and various passages of Civilization and its Discontent. Svevo and Freud are able to understand and explain a major social contradiction: well-being and civilization are founded on repression and fear; the more advanced a society is, the more it coerces the population to suppress natural drives. Such a comparison is made possible by Darwin’s ideas, in particular by the social re-interpretation of Darwinism in the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. For this reason, the essay is also focused on Svevo’s darwinian writings, as well as on a number of short stories such as Lo specifico del dottor Menghi and Una burla riuscita.

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