The Black Hole of Auschwitz brings together Levi’s writings on the Holocaust and his experiences of the concentration camp, as well as those on his own accidental status as a writer and his chosen profession of chemist. In this book Levi rails intelligently and eloquently against what he saw as the ebb of compassion and interest in the Holocaust, and the yearly assault on the veracity and moral weight of the testimonies of its survivors. For Levi, to keep writing and, through writing, to understand why the Holocaust could happen, was nothing less than a safeguard against the loss of a collective memory of the atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people. This moving book not only reveals the care and conviction with which he wrote about the Holocaust, but also shows the range of Levi’s interests and the skill, thoughtfulness and sensitivity he brought to all his subjects. The consistency and moral force of Levi’s reflections and the clarity and intimacy of his style will make this book appeal to a wide readership, including those who have read and been moved by his masterpiece If This is a Man.
Ethics after Auschwitz? Primo Levi’s and Elie Wiesel’s Response demonstrates how, after their horrific experiences in Auschwitz, both Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel could have deservedly expressed rage and bitterness for the rest of their lives. Housed in the same barracks in the depths of hell, a dark reality surpassing Dante’s vivid images portrayed in The Inferno, they chose to speak, write, and work for a better world, never allowing the memory of those who did not survive to fade. Why and how did they make this choice? What influenced their values before Auschwitz and their moral decision making after it? What can others who have suffered less devastating traumas learn from them? «The quest is in the question», Wiesel often tells his students. This book is a quest for hope and goodness emerging from the Shoah’s deepest «night».
In A Centaur in Auschwitz, Massimo Giuliani sheds new light on Primo Levi's rational, demythologizing approach to suffering and survival. Whether working in narrative or poetic form, Levi grappled with the ambiguities and complexities of innocence and guilt, triumph and loss. This unique book, with its concise overview of Levi's expression and development as a writer, reveals Primo Levi for what he was: scientist, intellectual, Jew, human, and dedicated seeker of the roots of human dignity.
This innovative study reassesses Primo Levi's Holocaust memoirs in light of the posthumanist theories of Adorno, Levinas, Lyotard, and Foucault and finds causal links between certain Enlightenment ideas and the Nazi genocide.
Primo Levi, author of Survival in Auschwitz and The Periodic Table, wrote books that have been called the essential works of humankind. Yet he lived an unremarkable existence, remaining until his death in the house in which he'd been born; managing a paint and varnish factory for thirty years; and tending his invalid mother to the last. Now, in a matchless account, Ian Thomson unravels the strands of a life as improbable as it was influential, the story of the most modest of men who became a universal touchstone of conscience and humanism. Drawing on exclusive access to family members and previously unseen correspondence, Thomson reconstructs the world of Levi's youth--the rhythms of Jewish life in Turin during the Mussolini years--as well as his experience in Auschwitz and difficult reintegration into postwar Italy. Thomson presents Levi in all his facets: his fondness for Louis Armstrong and fast cars, his insomnia and many near-catastrophic work accidents. Finally, he explores the controversy and isolation of Levi's later years, along with the increasing tensions in his life--between his private anguish and gift for friendship; his severe bouts of depression and passion for life and ideas; his pervasive dread and reasoned, pragmatic ethic. Praised in Britain as "the best sort of history" and "a model of its kind," Primo Levi: A Life is certain to take its place as the standard biography and a necessary companion to the works themselves.
Primo Levi (1919–87) was the author of a rich body of work, including memoirs and reflections on Auschwitz, poetry, science fiction, historical fiction and essays. In particular, his lucid and direct accounts of his time at Auschwitz, begun immediately after liberation in 1945 and sustained until weeks before his suicide in 1987, has made him one of the most admired of all Holocaust writer-survivors and one of the best guides we have for the interrogation of that horrific event. But there is also more to Levi than the voice of the witness. He has increasingly come to be recognised as one of the major literary voices of the twentieth century. This Companion brings together leading specialists on Levi and scholars in the fields of Holocaust studies, Italian literature and language, and literature and science, to offer a stimulating introduction to all aspects of the work of this extraordinary writer.
Primo Levi’s hold on scholarly, critical and public attention grows with the passing of time. He commands a position of prominence in discourses ranging across the disciplines of Holocaust studies, Jewish studies, Italian literature, politics, history and philosophy. Certain of his concepts (the “grey zone”) or certain concepts popularized through his works (the Musulmann phenomenon) play a significant role in contemporary intellectual discourse. In addition, Levi’s reflections on the act and the possibility of witness, and of recounting trauma, are increasingly cited by a range of thinkers. This book presents a baker’s dozen of interpretative keys to Levi’s output and thought. It deepens our understanding of common themes in Levi studies (memory and witness) while exploring unusual and revealing byways (Levi and Calvino, or Levi and theater, for example). Of special interest and utility are the chapters that situate his thought within wider contexts: his epistemological connection to ancient Greeks, and his contributions to Holocaust phenomenology.
Excerpts from criticism of the works of novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and other creative writers who lived between 1900 and 1960, from the first published critical appraisals to current evaluations.