By Sam Magavern

Primo Levi is better recognized for his memoir, Survival in Auschwitz, yet he used to be additionally a scientist, fiction author, and poet: briefly, a Renaissance guy, who didn't want to be recognized completely as a Holocaust author. utilizing Levi's personal phrases as a springboard, Sam Magavern deals the following for the 1st time a multi-faceted portrait of the fellow - as a author. through exploring all of Levi's writings—including his brief tales, poems, his pleasant novels approximately blue-collar workers—Magavern introduces us to a skilled author who had a profound love of humanity, a pointy wit, a fondness for his career as a chemist—a guy encouraged by way of number of issues past his Holocaust event. Magavern brings a clean, own sensibility to the best way we predict approximately Levi and produces a hybrid book—part existence tale and half literary biography, eventually doing justice to the man's calm rationality and crucial ideals.

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3 While Levi was at university, he joined some friends in a Jewish study group, formed in response to the passage of the Racial Laws. In The Periodic Table, he describes how they gathered in the gym of the Jewish elementary school and tried to find in the Bible the strength to overcome injustice. ”5 His vision was surprisingly aggressive. We would dredge the bowels of the mystery with our strength, our talent: we would grab Proteus by the throat, cut short his inconclusive metamorphoses from Plato to Augustine, from Augustine to Thomas, from Thomas to Hegel, from Hegel to Croce.

Philosophical problems, by contrast, haven’t changed since the Pre-Socratics, they keep going around and around them, working them over and over . . 2 Levi’s answer blends modesty and pride. He portrays himself as an ignorant paint-maker, and yet he judges philosophers quite harshly for two flaws: they invent their own languages, and they make no progress. Levi, by contrast, wants an interpretation of reality that is comprehensible to all and reflects the progress scientists like Darwin and Einstein have made in understanding reality.

The other evil man in If This Is A Man is not a Nazi soldier or administrator, but a fellow prisoner: Alex, a green triangle, a German criminal. Alex has achieved the position of Kapo, which he lords over his fellow inmates. As he takes Levi back from the exam with Pannwitz, Alex grabs hold of a cable that is covered with thick, black grease. 25 How, in the shadow of the gas chambers, could this minute indignity, committed by a fellow inmate, be the key, the standard by which Levi will measure everyone?

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