Answering Auschwitz: Primo Levi's Science and Humanism after the Fall / Edition 3

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More than twenty years ago, the Italian chemist, writer and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi fell to his death from the stairwell of his apartment building in Turin. Within hours, a debate exploded as to whether his death was an accident or a suicide and, if the latter, how this might force us to reinterpret his legacy as a writer and "survivor." Many weighed in with thoughtful and sometimes provocative commentary, but the debate over his death has sometimes overshadowed the larger significance of his place as a thinker "after Auschwitz."

This volume contains essays that deal directly with Levi and his work; others tangentially use Levi's writings or ideas to explore larger issues in Holocaust studies, philosophy, theology, and the problem of representation. They are included here in the spirit that Levi described himself: proud of being "impure" and a "centaur," cognizant that asymmetry is the fundamental structure of organic life.

"I became a Jew in Auschwitz," Levi once wrote, comparing the concentration camp to a "university" of life. Yet he could also paradoxically admit, in an interview late in life, "There is Auschwitz, and so there cannot be God." Rather than seek to untangle these contradictions, Levi embraced them. This volume seeks to embrace them as well.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This admirable collection of essays, reflecting a variety of academic disciplines, parallels Levi's own effort to bring all of his scientific and humanistic energies to bear on the task of Holocaust testimony. In so doing, Answering Auschwitz makes a precious contribution to the urgent and growing body of scholarship on Italy's most renowned witness to the genocide of European Jewry.-Millicent Marcus

" [Levi] was a humanist who insisted on justiceone whose incisive voice against those who murder the innocent still speaks to all lands, and all cultures."-Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education

This volume contains essays that deal with Levi and his work; others tangentially use Levi's writings or ideas to explore larger issues in Holocaust studies, philosophy, theology, and the problem of representation. They are included here in the spirit that Levi described himself: proud of being "impure" and a "centaur," cognizant that asymmetry is the fundamental structure of organic life.-Shofar

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823233588
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Edition description: 3
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanislao G. Pugliese is Professor of Modern European History and the Queensboro Unico Distinguished Professor of Italian and Italian American Studies at Hofstra University. His most recent book is Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone, winner of the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Prologue: Answering Auschwitz: Levi's Science and Humanism as Antifascism Stanislao G. Pugliese 1

Part 1 Psychology, Theology, and Philosophy

1 "Warum?" Joram Warmund 17

2 Guilt or Shame? Amy Simon 31

3 Primo Levi and the Concept of History Johan Åhr 41

4 Kenosis, Saturated Phenomenology, and Bearing Witness Marie L. Baird 56

5 After Auschwitz: What Is a Good Death? Timothy Pytell 67

Part 2 Humanism and Politics

6 The Humanity and Humanism of Levi Joseph Farrell 87

7 Levi and the Two Cultures Jonathan Druker 103

8 The Partisan and His Doppelganger: The Case of Primo Levi Ilona Klein 114

9 Primo Levi in the Public Interest: Turin, Auschwitz, Israel Risa Sodi 127

Part 3 Literature

10 Primo Levi's Struggle with the Spirit of Kafka Massimo Giuliani 137

11 Ethics and Literary Strategies Sara Vandewaetere 147

12 Literary Encounters and Storytelling Techniques Elizabeth Scheiber 156

13 Primo Levi and the History of Reception William McClellan 169

14 Autobiography and the Narrator Nancy Harrowitz 177

Part 4 Reflections on Writing

15 Writing Against the Fascist Sword Fred Misurella 193

16 "Singoli Stimoli": Primo Levi's Poetry Nicholas Patruno 200

17 Primo Levi's Correspondence with Hety Schmitt-Maas Ian Thomson 212

18 A Note on the Problem of Translation Ann Goldstein 217

19 Primo Levi: A Bibliography of English and Italian Scholarly Writings, 2003-2010 James Tasato Mellone 220

Epilogue: Primo Levi's Gray Zone: A Sequence of Drawings Terri Bowman 241

Notes 247

Works Cited 283

List of Contributors 295

Index 301

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