Cover image for Understanding Primo Levi
Understanding Primo Levi
Patruno, Nicholas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, [1995]

Physical Description:
xiii, 170 pages ; 24 cm.
Survival in Auschwitz -- The reawakening -- The periodic table -- The monkey's wrench -- If not now, when? -- The drowned and the saved -- Stories and essays: Levi's minor works.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ4872.E8 Z82 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Levi, an Italian Jew who completed university training as the Nazis came to power, survived the atrocities of concentration camps and wrote extensively of his experiences. Patruno (Italian, Bryn Mawr College) analyzes Levi's novels, short stories, and essays to reveal a writer who never came to term

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Patruno's study moves from Levi's six novels to his minor works, the essays, and short stories. Through the author's very lucid and graceful style, even a reader unfamiliar with this Holocaust writer will grasp both the story line and the emotional context of his fiction. Patruno (Bryn Mawr College) is a close reader of Levi. He focuses on the highly symbolic nature of Levi's texts, pointing out how the Holocaust "becomes the symbol of the human condition and is identified with death, from which no one can escape." Patruno also comments on the abundant examples of irony and paradox, particularly in the allusions to Dante, but "the paradox of course is that while Dante presents a fictitious world, Auschwitz is real." Of added interest is Patruno's examination of the autobiographical nature of Levi's writing. For more than 40 years Levi attempted to exorcise "the Lager," his name for the camps. Yet the memories of Auschwitz became stronger, not weaker. Levi carried to his death the painful realization that "the world has been turned upside down, and people do not value each other even in liberation." Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. A. Dompkowski; Canisius College