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A Silver Martian – Normality and Segregation in Primo Levi’s Sleeping Beauty in the Fridge

Paola Mieli

In Mieli’s interpretation, through surreal inventions, Levi pointed to a disquieting continuity between past aberrations and present normality, showing beyond any doubt how the present is subtly interwoven with the logic of the past. In his short story, Sleeping Beauty in the Fridge, Levi describes with great acumen the tight relationship between science new technologies, and subjective alienation, as well as the ways in which normality, and the tranquility of a prosperous life, are in fact the product of a bio-political normativity, universally accepted with careless complicity.

As a survivor moved to become a writer by the “necessity” to share his experience, Primo Levi narrated the devastating effects of the deprivation of one’s subjectivity in the lager. New York and Paris based psychoanalyst Paola Mieli traces the voice of Levi the storyteller in his reflection on the causes and implications of what he defined as an “immense biological and social experiment,” pondering on the issue of segregation in our times and on the heritage the camps have bequeathed onto the present.

About the Author
Paola Mieli, PhD is a psychoanalyst in New York City. She is the president Après-Coup Psychoanalytic Association (New York), a member at Le Cercle Freudien (Paris), Insistance (Paris), Encore (Paris) and an honorary member of The European Federation of Psychoanalysis (Strasbourg). A Correspondent Editor of the Psychoanalytic Journal Che Vuoi ? (Paris) and a Contributing Editor of the Journal Insistance: Art, psychanalyse et politique (Paris), she is Associate Researcher at the Centre de Recherches en Psychanalyse, Medicine et Société at the University of Paris VII. The author of numerous articles on psychoanalysis and on culture published in Europe and America, her books include: Sobre as manipulaçaões irreversívels do corpo ( Rio de Janeiro 2002), and Being Human: The Technological Extensions of the Body (Co-Editor, New York, 1999). She is the Publisher and Director of Sea Horse Imprint (New York). She holds a PhD, In Researches in Psychoanalysis and Psychopathology, University of Paris Diderot-Paris VII, Paris; Doctorate in Philosophy, Università degli Studi, Milan.

Author : Paola Mieli
Title : A Silver Martian
Subtitle : Normality and Segregation in Primo Levi’s Sleeping Beauty in the Fridge
Year : 2014
Series : Primo Levi Papers
ISBN paperback: 978-1-941046-11-1
ISBN ebook: 978-1-941046-10-4
Price ebook : $9
Price paperback : $15

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As a reminder of our present situation and of the lessons learned through the experience of the camps, Levi writes: “Monsters exist but are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries always ready to believe and act without asking questions.”

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