The Search for Roots: A Personal Anthology

Overview

It is not my job to explain why...the reader who wishes can enter the passage and cast an eye on the ecosystem that lodges unsuspected in my depths, saprophytes, birds of day and night, creepers, butterflies, crickets, and fungi. Primo Levi emerged not only as one of the most profound and haunting commentators on the Holocaust but also as a great writer on many twentieth-century themes. Here is an anthology of writings that he considered to be essential reading. As Peter Forbes says in his Introduction, In the ...
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2003-03-24 Paperback New New-Mint cover, tight binding, clean text.

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Overview

It is not my job to explain why...the reader who wishes can enter the passage and cast an eye on the ecosystem that lodges unsuspected in my depths, saprophytes, birds of day and night, creepers, butterflies, crickets, and fungi. Primo Levi emerged not only as one of the most profound and haunting commentators on the Holocaust but also as a great writer on many twentieth-century themes. Here is an anthology of writings that he considered to be essential reading. As Peter Forbes says in his Introduction, In the context of the twenty-first century, all of Levi's choices are striking; they exhibit a kind of chastened curiosity rare in our time, and an undiminished sense of wonder and horror at a universe that has such things in it. Most of the pieces, as Levi comments, reflect the fundamental dichotomies that face us all. Many have their roots in Levi's experience of Auschwitz, and in their startling juxtaposition they give the impression of a world turned upside down. One of the most important Italian writers. —Umberto Eco
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Editorial Reviews

Time Magazine
It is a victory, against great odds, for the preservation of memory.
New Statesman - Gillian Wilce
His prose is so lucid and direct that it would be difficult to translate it badly.
The New York Times - Alvin H. Rosenfeld
He has been able to forge an unusual synthesis of scientific learning and poetic sensibility, of rational procedures and moral perceptions.
Irving Howe
Whoever has come under the sway of Primo Levi's luminous mind and lovely prose will feel pained at the realization that we shall not be hearing from him again.
Italo Calvino
One of the most important and gifted writers of our time.
Philip Roth
A magically endearing man, the most delicately forceful enchanter I've ever known.
Science - S. E. Luria
His writing has an immediacy achieved without sacrifice of sophisticated literary skill.
The New York Times - Charles McGrath
A wealth of wisdom about human relationships and values and the beauty of the world.
Gillian Wilce
His prose is so lucid and direct that it would be difficult to translate it badly.
New Statesman
Charles McGrath
A wealth of wisdom about human relationships and values and the beauty of the world.
New York Times Book Review
S.E. Luria
His writing has an immediacy achieved without sacrifice of sophisticated literary skill.
Science Magazine
Time Magazine
It is a victory, against great odds, for the preservation of memory.
Alvin H. (Ed.) Rosenfeld
He has been able to forge an unusual synthesis of scientific learning and poetic sensibility, of rational procedures and moral perceptions.
New York Times Book Review
Library Journal
In 1981, noted author and Holocaust survivor Levi (1919-86; The Periodic Table) edited this anthology of 30 short excerpts from works that were especially important to him. They are basically arranged in the order he read them himself and point to four main themes, delineated in the preface: salvation through laughter, our unjust suffering, our stature as human beings, and salvation through knowledge. These four aspects of Levi's reading possessed him both as a writer and as a man. The book covers such major writers as Homer, Rabelais, Jonathan Swift, T.S. Eliot, and Thomas Mann. Science writing (e.g., Charles Darwin, Arthur C. Clarke, Ludwig Gattermann) and Jewish life in 20th-century Europe (Levi's great subject, represented by writers like Isaac Babel and Sholem Aleichem) are also represented. Especially noteworthy are the excerpts from lesser-known Italian writers (e.g., Carlo Porta, Giuseppe Parini). Not only are the selections themselves illuminating but Levi's preface and head notes are invaluable additions to the writings of this author of reason, morality, and honesty. The introduction by Forbes, the editor of Poetry Review, and afterword by Italo Calvino further explain the anthology. Highly recommended for literature and Jewish Studies collections. Gene Shaw, NYPL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Best known for his accounts of captivity during the Nazi era, Jewish-Italian chemist Levi (1919-86) is here represented with a compilation of 30 extracts from prose and poetry ranging from the Bible and Homer to an article on black holes from . Forbes also studied as a chemist before turning to writing. was published by Guilio Einaudi Editore in 1981. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566635042
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 258
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 7.68 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in 1919 in Turin, Italy, Primo Levi was the son of an educated middle-class Jewish family. He became a research chemist and in December 1943 was arrested as part of the anti-fascist resistance and deported to Auschwitz. After the war, Levi resumed his career as a chemist, retiring only in 1975. His graphic account of his time in Auschwitz, If This Is a Man, was published in 1957, and he went on to write many other books, including If Not Now, When? and The Periodic Table, emerging not only as one of the most profound and haunting commentators on the Holocaust but also as a great writer on many twentieth-century themes. In 1987 he died in a fall that is widely believed to have been suicide.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
Preface 3
1 'The Just Man Oppressed by Injustice': The Book of Job, Bible 11
2 'A Man of No Account': Homer, 'New Coasts and Poseidon's Son', The Odyssey 22
3 'Why are Animals Beautiful?': Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species 25
4 'To See Atoms': Sir William Bragg, Concerning the Nature of Things 31
5 'The Pact with the Mammoths': Joseph-Henri Rosny aine, La Guerre du Feu 38
6 'The Hobbies': Giuseppe Parini, The Day 42
7 'A Deadly Nip': Carlo Porta, Olter Desgrazzi de Giovannin Bongee 48
8 'Dystopia': Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels 55
9 'A Testing Time': Joseph Conrad, Youth 63
10 'The Words of the Father': Ludwig Gattermann, Laboratory Methods of Organic Chemistry 74
11 'Better to Write of Laughter Than Tears': Francois Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel 77
12 'A Different Way of Saying "I"': Thomas Mann, The Tales of Jacob 89
13 'The Romance of Technology': Roger Vercel, Tug-Boat 101
14 'The Dark Well of the Human Spirit': Herman Melville, Moby Dick 118
15 'Survivors in the Sahara': Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars 122
16 'The Curious Merchant': Marco Polo, The Travels 129
17 'The Poet-Researcher': Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe 136
18 'The Jew on Horseback': Isaac Babel, Collected Stories 140
19 'An Irrepressible Quibbler': Sholem Aleichem, Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories 147
20 'Pity Hidden beneath Laughter': Giuseppe Belli, The Sonnets 159
21 'Why We are Not Happy': Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness 163
22 'We are the Aliens': Fredric Brown, 'Sentry' 172
23 'The Measure of All Things': ASTM D 1382-55 T, American Society for Testing Materials 174
24 'Urchin Death': Stefano D'Arrigo, Horcynus Orca 178
25 'TV According to Leonardo': Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible 188
26 'Before and after the Crime': T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral 195
27 'Death Fugue': Paul Celan, Poems of Paul Celan 198
28 'Tonle the Winterer': Mario Rigoni Stern, Storia di Tonle 201
29 'Trying to Understand': Hermann Langbein, Menschen in Auschwitz 207
30 'We are Alone': Kip S. Thorne, 'The Search for Black Holes' 214
Afterword: 'The Four Paths of Primo Levi' 221
Notes 225
Acknowledgements 232
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