Thursday, 21 September 2006

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. About capital gain I have only one comment: it accrues to the wealthy more than to the poor. I am not wealthy, but I have made some gains, and paid the tax on them.

Despite my habitual parsimony — although I recently purchased a printer and a digital camera — it has of late been my intention to make some of that moolah fall somewhere where it may bear fruit: on the fertile groves of Academe. Students willing to submit to the restraints of cross-cultural study can compete for a prize.

Having swotted Italian at the University of Sydney — I graduated in 1984 with second-class honours — and having read deeply of literature in the English language in the interim, I wish that there was more investigation of the influences of the one culture on the other. In either direction, I assume, there will be found many examples worthy of report.

Naming the prize in honour of the writer I did my thesis on, Italo Svevo, would reflect my presence in the arrangement. It would also celebrate the friendship that existed between Svevo and writer James Joyce, who lived between 1907 and 1915 in the city of Trieste, working as an English teacher, and where he completed Dubliners and wrote part of Ulysses. It was also where Svevo lived and worked.

A Jew of German ancestry, Svevo was active in an industrial manufacturing company for most of his life. He also wrote very good books including those of his youth: A Life (1892) and Senility (1898).

The company he married into made maritime anti-fouling coatings, and he became a senior executive of it, travelling extensively and being forever anxious about his wife’s fidelity. He was loud and well-educated, and was taught English by Joyce. He died in an automobile accident before reaching old age. He smoked cigarettes until the end of his life and, in La Coscienza di Zeno (1923), humorously delved into the quandary of a committed smoker unable to quit the habit.

I have always had a peculiar affinity with Svevo. Now is my chance to make a difference.

4 comments:

Meredith said...

Dean this is a noble aim. I'm assuming you're thinking of setting the scholarship up with Sydney Uni? You could consider UWS instead, which is by far the poorest university in Sydney (I don't count the Catholic one or Notre Dame as universities). I've heard that Sydney Uni has a billion dollars in property assets alone.

Dean said...

What I'm thinking of doing is setting up the prize so that students at any university in Australia THAT HAS AN ENGLISH DEPARTMENT AND AN ITALIAN DEPARTMENT can submit for it. So if you're a UWS student you can go for it, but if you're at the Uni of Tasmania, you can't.

You see, Sydney Uni is my alma mater, and so I have a strong connection there already.

Meredith said...

That sounds excellent... so are you going to administer/judge it yourself? UTS students wouldn't qualify - no English Department!

Dean said...

The administration is the problem. I still don't know if they will be interested in going ahead. I plan to donate $10,000, which will yield $500 annually. That's a $500-dollar prize. But there's no extra cash for administration, so it's just extra work for the relevant departments. I sent off an e-mail today to the heads of the departments, so next week we'll see what they have to say about it.

Of course I'll leave the judging up to the experts. But I will ask to be allowed to read the submissions. As a treat.