At the start of 1987, Primo Levi took part in a remarkable series of conversations about his early life with a friend and fellow writer, Giovanni Tesio. This book is the result of those meetings, originally intended to be the basis for an authorized biography and published here in English for the first time.
In a densely packed dialogue, Levi responds to Tesio's tactful and never too insistent questions with a watchful readiness and candour, breaking through the reserve of his public persona to allow a more intimate self to emerge. Following the thread of memory, he lucidly discusses his family, his childhood, his education during the Fascist period, his adolescent friendships, his reading, his shyness and his passion for mountaineering, and recounts his wartime experience as a partisan and the terrible price it exacted from him and his comrades. Though we glimpse his later life as a writer, the story breaks off just before his deportation to Auschwitz owing to his sudden death.
In The Last Interview, Levi the man, the witness, the chemist and the writer all unite to offer us a story which is also a window onto history. These conversations shed new light on Levi's life and will appeal to the many readers of this most eloquent witness to the horrors of the Holocaust.
Over the course of more than twenty-five years, Primo Levi gave more than two hundred newspaper, journal, radio and television interviews speaking with such varied authors as Philip Roth and Germaine Greer. Marco Belpoliti and Robert Gordon have selected and translated thirty-six of the most important of these interviews for The Voice of Memory.
The Black Hole of Auschwitz brings together Levi's writings on the Holocaust and his experiences of the concentration camp, as well as those on his own accidental status as a writer and his chosen profession of chemist. In this book Levi rails intelligently and eloquently against what he saw as the ebb of compassion and interest in the Holocaust, and the yearly assault on the veracity and moral weight of the testimonies of its survivors. For Levi, to keep writing and, through writing, to understand why the Holocaust could happen, was nothing less than a safeguard against the loss of a collective memory of the atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people.
This moving book not only reveals the care and conviction with which he wrote about the Holocaust, but also shows the range of Levi's interests and the skill, thoughtfulness and sensitivity he brought to all his subjects. The consistency and moral force of Levi's reflections and the clarity and intimacy of his style will make this book appeal to a wide readership, including those who have read and been moved by his masterpiece If This is a Man.
In 1945, soon after the liberation of Auschwitz, Soviet authorities in control of the Kattowitz (Katowice) camp in Poland asked Primo Levi and his fellow captive Leonardo De Benedetti to compile a detailed report on the sanitary conditions they witnessed in Auschwitz. The result was an extraordinary testimony and one of the first accounts of the extermination camps ever written. Their report, published in a medical journal in 1946, marked the beginnings of Levi's life-long work as writer, analyst and witness. In the subsequent four decades, Levi never ceased to recount his experiences in Auschwitz in a wide variety of texts, many of which are assembled together here for the first time, alongside other testimony from De Benedetti. From early research into the fate of their companions to the deposition written for Eichmann's trial, Auschwitz Testimonies is a rich mosaic of documents, memories and critical reflections of great historic and human value. Underpinned by his characteristically clear language, rigorous method and deep psychological insight, this collection of testimonies, reports and analyses reaffirms Primo Levi's position as one of the most important chroniclers of the Holocaust.