The year 1909 would be an important and traumatic one for Joyce, challenging him once again as a writer, and enticing him back to the novel over which he had laboured so long and which he had come to neglect. But it took a moment of mutual discovery to galvanize him. In February, Ettore Schmitz, his student, mentioned to him shyly that he too was a writer and had published two novels under the pseudonym “Italo Svevo.” These were “Una Vita” and “Senilità,” published ten years earlier. Joyce took them to read and was deeply impressed, telling him, “Do you know that you are a neglected writer? There are passages in ‘Senilità’ that even Anatole France could not have improved.” His words moved Schmitz almost to tears. From then on he talked to Joyce openly about his frustrated ambitions. Joyce’s enthusiasm had reignited his will to write, and he would soon embark on the novel that would bring him literary recognition. His brother, said Stanislaus, was more than a teacher to Schmitz, he was “an influence.”
more of the excerpt from Gordon Bowker’s new biography on Joyce at the LA Times here.