Friday, June 13, 2008

Online resources for Primo Levi

While I had The Periodic Table on my list to re-read soon, I was surprised when a co-worker recommended it. It was such a coincidence, I thought now was a good time to approach it again after more than 20 years. Originally published in 1975, my first encounter with it was when it was translated into English in 1984.

Fortunately there is a lot available online regarding Levi and his writing, so below is a short list of a few sites I found informative:

  • Levi’s Wikipedia entry

  • A detailed entry on Levi at “The Modern Word’s” Scriptorium, with biography, bibliography, and brief reviews of his works

  • Composer Ari Frankel’s article at The Internet Channel has a partial transcript of a documentary covering a group visit to Auschwitz. Levi’s portion is detailed, and the site includes many pictures of Levi, his books, and photos that Frankel took.

  • An article by David Mendel on Levi’s thoughts on translation

  • One of Levi’s stories, published after his death: The Molecule's Defiance

  • Parts of an interview with Levi (excerpts from Ferdinando Camon, Conversations with Primo Levi)

  • A webpage dedicated to Primo Levi the Chemist

  • Primo Levi, from The Truce

    [And] a dream full of horror has still not ceased to visit me, at sometimes frequent, sometimes longer, intervals. It is a dream within a dream, varied in detail, one in substance. I am sitting at a table with my family, or with friends, or at work, or in the green countryside; in short, in a peaceful relaxed environment, apparently without tension or affliction; yet I feel a deep and subtle anguish, the definite sensation of an impending threat. And in fact, as the dream proceeds, slowly and brutally, each time in a different way, everything collapses, and disintegrates around me, the scenery, the walls, the people, while the anguish becomes more intense and more precise. Now everything has changed into chaos; I am alone in the centre of a grey and turbid nothing, and now, I know what this thing means, and I also know that I have always known it; I am in the Lager once more, and nothing is true outside the Lager. All the rest was a brief pause, a deception of the senses, a dream; my family, nature in flower, my home. Now this inner dream, this dream of peace, is over, and in the outer dream, which continues, gelid, a well-known voice resounds: a single word, not imperious, but brief and subdued. It is the dawn command, of Auschwitz, a foreign word, feared and expected: get up, "Wstawàch."

    Update (3 Dec 2011): A short post by Siddhartha Mukherjee on My hero: Primo Levi.

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