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Primo Levi Tragedy of an Optimist

Anissimov, Myriam

52 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0879518065 / ISBN 13: 9780879518066
Published by The Overlook Press, Woodstock, New Tork, 1999
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
From Gumshoe Books (West Columbia, SC, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

a writer whose experiences in ww2 as an intellectual italian jew who became a partizan and survived auschwitz and returned to italy after the war. those experiences colored his life and his writing. Size: 8vo. Bookseller Inventory # 016875

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Primo Levi Tragedy of an Optimist

Publisher: The Overlook Press, Woodstock, New Tork

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good Plus

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Primo Levi is represented in this world almost entirely by his writings, and his public self--shy, intelligent, diffident--has long hidden the true Levi. This major biography delves deeply into the life and mind of the controversial writer, philosopher, and Holocaust witness, exploring the complex nature of a man who felt misunderstood, certain that future generations would inevitably forget and even deny the Holocaust.

Review:

In 1987, the literary world was shocked when the Italian writer and chemist Primo Levi died after falling down the stairs in the very home where he had been born 78 years earlier. The reason his death caused such surprise was the widely held suspicion that it was suicide--Levi, a man who had lived through 18 tortured months in Auschwitz, was known as a survivor.

What kept him alive through the Holocaust was an intense yearning to tell the world exactly what had happened, and when the war was over he immediately began writing. His books about the horrors he had lived through include If This Is a Man and the brilliant The Periodic Table. Levi also lectured, gave interviews, and led tours to Auschwitz, yet he always wondered if he had done enough. Once, pointing to the number tattooed on his arm, he said, "That is my disease." His tombstone in Turin bears his name; his dates of birth and death; and his number, 174517.

Myriam Anissimov, a Paris-based writer and journalist, painstakingly recorded Levi's life using hitherto unpublished letters and poems. She also consulted archives and interviewed Levi's colleagues and friends. Levi believed writers should be concise and clear, avoiding embellishments and convolutions, and that's exactly what Anissimov has accomplished. Her work will prove to be an invaluable resource for scholars and researchers, but readers who desire some insight into Levi's personality may be disappointed. His marriage is dealt with in just a few paragraphs and there's barely a mention of his children or any other significant relationships in his life. After reading this 450-page book, readers will have gained an excellent understanding of Levi's work, but little of him.

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