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Understanding Primo Levi /

Main Author: Patruno, Nicholas.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: [Columbia, S.C.] : University of South Carolina Press, 1995
Series: Understanding modern European and Latin American literature
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Review by 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

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.