Zeno Cosini's philosophy of humor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article argues that Zeno Cosini's famous sense of humor derives from a philosophy of nihilism. Because this philosophy expresses itself as humor, as a mode of communication traditionally considered antithetical to everything associated with nihilism, the root of Zeno's penchant for joke making oftentimes remains hidden from view. Hence, this article looks at the philosophy that underlies Zeno Cosini's humor while aiming to assess just how 'readable' to others said humor renders this philosophy. This 'readability' is considered in light of Zeno's relationship to three audience groups: those within the narrative who are ignorant of Zeno's journal; Doctor S., the one character who is privy to the journal's contents; and the readers of the journal, who know what Zeno's doctor does but who lie outside the space of the narrative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-379
Number of pages19
JournalForum Italicum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • Humor
  • Nihilism
  • Svevo
  • Zeno

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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