Northwestern University

The Liar's Tale

Zeno’s Conscience By Italo Svevo translated by William Weaver (Everyman’s Library, 437 pp., $20)   Emilio’s Carnival (Senilita) By Italo Svevo translated by Beth Archer Brombert with an introduction by Victor Brombert (Yale University Press, 233 pp., $14.95)   A Life By Italo Svevo translated by Archibald Colquhoun (Pushkin Press, 411 pp., £10)   Memoir of Italo Svevo By Livia Veneziani Svevo translated by Isabel Quigly (The Marlboro Press/ Northwestern University Press, 178 pp., $15.95)   Italo Svevo’s third and final novel, Zeno’s Conscience, is most famously a novel about quitting smoking.

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Wretched Excess

After one of the best ten-year runs in economic history, the torrent of bad news flooding Alan Greenspan's office this January had to be jarring. The country had just seen its worst quarter of economic growth since 1995, and manufacturing activity had fallen to its lowest level since 1991. Spending by businesses on new plants and equipment had dropped for the first time in a decade. And the stock markets' decline, already nine months old, showed no signs of abating. So Greenspan lowered interest rates, over and over again.

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Bad Luck

The terrorist threat is all too real, but newspapers and TV stations around the globe are still managing to exaggerate it. As new cases of anthrax infection continue to emerge, the World Health Organization is begging people not to panic. But tabloid headlines like this one from The Mirror in London send a different message: "PANIC." A Time/CNN poll found that nearly half of all Americans say they are "very" or "somewhat" concerned that they or their families will be exposed to anthrax, even though only a handful of politicians and journalists have been targeted so far. This isn't surprising.

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Is there a middle ground on affirmative action, an oasis between radical color-blindness on the right and racial quota-mongering on the left? As President Clinton prepares to unveil his conclusions on the subject, it's hard not to sympathize with his political predicament, but hard also not to anticipate his speech with a sense of dread. Having raised expectations so dramatically, he no longer has the luxury of embracing contradictory positions, or retreating into euphemisms. But is his task impossible?

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