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Primo Levi - book author

Primo Michele Levi (Italian: [ˈpriːmo ˈlɛːvi]) was a chemist and writer, the author of books, novels, short stories, essays, and poems. His unique 1975 work, The Periodic Table, linked to qualities of the elements, was named by the Royal Institution of Great Britain as the best science book ever written.

Levi spent eleven months imprisoned at Monowitz, one of the three main camps in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex (record number: 174,517) before the camp was liberated by the Red Army on 18 January 1945. Of the 650 Italian Jews in his transport, Levi was one of twenty who left the camps alive.

The Primo Levi Center, dedicated "to studying the history and culture of Italian Jewry," was named in his honor.

Primo Levi is the author of books: Survival in Auschwitz, If This Is a Man / The Truce, The Periodic Table, The Drowned and the Saved, If Not Now, When?, The Reawakening, Se questo è un uomo: Versione drammatica di Pieralberto Marché e Primo Levi, Moments of Reprieve, The Monkey's Wrench, A Tranquil Star: Unpublished Short Stories

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Author Books

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01
The true and harrowing account of Primo Levi’s experience at the German concentration camp of Auschwitz and his miraculous survival; hailed by The Times Literary Supplement as a “true work of art, this edition includes an exclusive conversation between the author and Philip Roth.

In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint, compassion, and even wit, Survival in Auschwitz remains a lasting testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit.
02
'With the moral stamina and intellectual poise of a twentieth-century Titan, this slightly built, dutiful, unassuming chemist set out systematically to remember the German hell on earth, steadfastly to think it through, and then to render it comprehensible in lucid, unpretentious prose. He was profoundly in touch with the minutest workings of the most endearing human events and with the most contemptible. What has survived in Levi's writing isn't just his memory of the unbearable, but also, in The Periodic Table and The Wrench, his delight in what made the world exquisite to him. He was himself a magically endearing man, the most delicately forceful enchanter I've ever known' - Philip Roth.
03
The Periodic Table by Primo Levi is an impassioned response to the Holocaust: Consisting of 21 short stories, each possessing the name of a chemical element, the collection tells of the author's experiences as a Jewish-Italian chemist before, during, and after Auschwitz in luminous, clear, and unfailingly beautiful prose. It has been named the best science book ever by the Royal Institution of Great Britain and is considered to be Levi's crowning achievement.
04
The author tries to understand the rationale behind Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen. Dismissing stereotyped images of brutal Nazi torturers and helpless victims, Levi draws extensively on his own experiences to delve into the minds and motives of oppressors and oppressed alike. Describing the difficulty and shame of remembering, the limited forms of collaboration between inmates and SS goalers, the exploitation of useless violence and the plight of the intellectual, Levi writes about the issue of power, mercy and guilt, and their effects on the lives of the ordinary people who suffered so incomprehendingly.
05
Primo Levi was among the greatest witnesses to twentieth-century atrocity. In this gripping novel, based on a true story, he reveals the extraordinary lives of the Russian, Polish and Jewish partisans trapped behind enemy lines during the Second World War. Wracked by fear, hunger and fierce rivalries, they link up, fall apart, struggle to stay alive and to sabotage the efforts of the all-powerful German army. A compelling tale of action, resistance and epic adventure, it also reveals Levi's characteristic compassion and deep insight into the moral dilemmas of total war. It ranks alongside THE PERIOD TABLE and IF THIS IS A MAN as one of the rare authentic masterpieces of the 20th century.
06
First published in English in 1965, The Reawakening is Primo Levi's bestselling sequel to his classic memoir of the Holocaust, Survival in Auschwitz. The inspiring story of Levi's liberation from the German death camp in January 1945 by the Red Army, it tells of his strange and eventful journey home to Italy by way of the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Romania. Levi's railway travels take him through bombed-out cities and transit camps, with keen insight he describes the former prisoners and Russian soldiers he encounters along the way. An extraordinary account of faith, hope, and undying courage, The Reawakening was praised by Irving Howe as "a remarkable feat of literary craft."
07
Andato in scena al Teatro Carignano di Torino la sera del 18 novembre 1966, nella riduzione dell'autore e di un attore professionista, "Se questo è un uomo" era interpretato da cinquantatre attori di sette nazionalità diverse, guidati dal regista Gianfranco De Bosio, in uno spazio scenico di straordinaria e cupa suggestione ideato da Gianni Polidori.

Questo testo conserva intatto il suo vigore morale ed è tuttora un bellissimo esempio di teatro «storico», in cui la storia è non solo dei fatti, ma anche e prima degli uomini e delle loro coscienze umiliate e offese.
08
Primo Levi was one of the most astonishing voices to emerge from the twentieth century: a man who survived one of the ugliest times in history, yet who was able to describe his own Auschwitz experience with an unaffected tenderness. Levi was a master storyteller but he did not write fairytales. These stories are an elegy to the human figures who stood out against the tragic background of Auschwitz, 'the ones in whom I had recognized the will and capacity to react, and hence a rudiment of virtue'. Each centres on an individual who - whether it be through a juggling trick, a slice of apple or a letter - discovers one of the 'bizarre, marginal moments of reprieve'.

The English edition includes just one section of the three originally published in Italian under the title 'Lilít', tales from the other two sections have been published in 'A Tranquil Star'.
09
In this exuberant and wildly funny novel, Primo Levi celebrates the joys of work and the art of storytelling. The magic is worked through the mesmerizing tales told by Libertini Faussone, a construction worker, and by the narrator, a writer-chemist, who share stories of their adventures. Faussone is a life-loving, self-educated philosopher who has built bridges and towers in India, Africa, Alaska, and Russia. His passion for work and travel shines through his stories – of a monkey who wanted to be a man, of a magnificent machine that caught stardust, and of a first love, a girl who drove a bulldozer. The writer-chemist, himself a rigger of words and molecules, listens, patient and amused, and responds with his own fascinating stories and reflections on the similar joys of labor, both physical and intellectual.
10
These seventeen stories, first published in Italian between 1949 and 1986, demonstrate Levi's extraordinary range, taking the reader from the primal resistance of a captured partisan fighter to a middle-aged chemist experimenting with a new paint that wards off evil, to the lustful thoughts of an older man obsessed with a mysterious woman in a seaside villa. In the title story, Levi demonstrates his unerringly tragic understanding of the fragility of the universe through the tale of a pensive astronomer, terrified by the possibility that a long-dormant star might explode and reduce the entire planet to vapor. This remarkable new collection affirms Italo Calvino's conviction that Levi was "one of the most important and gifted writers of our time."