Press on Primo Levi’s Complete Works

Primo Levi’s Complete Works: Selected Press

1/15/16    Public Books / review

“Monumental. . . . Lively, poised, brand-new versions of all Levi’s books and collections, many complete here for the first time in English, and a rich seam of his occasional, uncollected writings from the 1940s to the 1980s . . . . One of the signal achievements of these Complete Works is to give us the full range of [Levi’s] complexity, to show us Levi probing and reflecting, inventing and telling stories across a spectrum of fascinations . . . . The harmonies and dissonances between the modes of Levi’s work are, to a significant degree, what make him such a distinctive, subtle, and compelling ethical writer, one who ponders how to live in the face of both the extraordinary and the everyday, not through abstractions but through fragments of stories and vignettes of sentient experience and intelligent invention.”

—Robert Gordon, Public Books

12/23/15              Wall Street Journal / review

“In the years since his death, Levi’s reputation has, if anything, become more sacrosanct, amplified by a growing library of secondary literature. This season’s publishing blockbuster—a three‐volume set titled ‘The Complete Works of Primo Levi’—helps show why. …The project was the creation of Robert Weil, the editor of Liveright Press who accomplished something similar for Isaac Babel.” —Edward Rothstein, Wall Street Journal

12/15/15          New Republic / review

“A remarkable three-volume set of memoirs, novels, short stories, essays, commentary, book reviews, and poetry, the Complete Works now enables us to appreciate the tangle of forms and identities that defined Levi as a writer: memorialist and fantasist, scientist and sensationalist, puritan and jester, poet and political commentator…It gives us a far more eclectic and interesting writer, one who ranged across a vast intellectual terrain that included astronomy, history, linguistics, classical literature, art, current affairs, memory, and religion.” –Gavin Jacobson, The New Republic

11/29/15          The New York Times Book Review / front cover review

“Expertly edited by Ann Goldstein…These three handsome volumes bring into focus the breadth and coherence of his genius, and make unexpectedly clear how deeply his work as a chemist shaped his unsettling work as a moralist and his unique vision of psychology and history…The 3,000 pages of his ‘Complete Works’ seem tragically few.” —Ed Mendelson, The New York Times Book Review

Dec ‘15                 Harpers / review

“It is, by any measure, a monumental effort…[Ann Goldstein] has succeeded. What he hear throughout is Primo Levi’s voice: wry, honest, exact, compassionate in its recognition of human frailty, and imbued with (as he once wrote of Charles Darwin) ‘the sober joy of a man who extracts order from chaos’…Goldstein and her collaborators have performed an amazing service by allowing us to see him, as it were, complete.” —James Marcus, Harper’s Magazine

Dec ‘15           The Atlantic / review

Still, if the collection brings new readers and renewed attention, 28 years after his death, to this remarkable artist and man, it will have done important work. Levi is the rare writer about whom it can be said that his literary virtues originate in, and are largely inseparable from, his moral ones. His ability to guide us through the hell of the camps depends upon his powers of precise observation as well as on an eidetic memory of the 11 months of his enslavement. But it also rests upon a superhuman strength of mind, a refusal to distort the record with a spasm of self-pity or sentimentality, of pain or rage or lust for revenge.—— William Deresiewicz

11/30/15          Huffington Post / “5 Hot Books” 

11/18/15          Washington Post / Best Books of 2015

“A boxed set of the complete works of the Italian writer captures the breadth of his literary career: his devastating 1947 memoir, ‘If This Is a Man,’ alongside his stories, poetry and hitherto uncollected fiction and nonfiction.” — Michael Dirda, Washington Post

11/18/15          Jewish Week / review

“Primo Levi was (as is the case with all world-class writers) multi-dimensional and multi-layered…A singularly valuable contribution…The collection reintroduces us to a literary master, a writer who transcends the Holocaust genre.” —Jerome A. Chanes, Jewish Week

11/5/15 New York Review of Books / review

“Levi’s best writing was about his life, about questions of freedom and survival…[A] remarkable achievement.” —Tim Parks, New York Review of Books

10/4/15            Philadelphia Inquirer / review 

“Wonderful…You cannot forget [Levi]. He writes clearly, cogently, concretely, compactly. His is a scientist’s eye, and he often said (with his trademark dry humor) that the main model for his writing was the lab report. Yet in the best contemporary sense, he’s also stylish, laboratory-scrupulous in sentence, description, and word choice, always with a sense of the lively mind behind the words…. Levi is among the prime writers to emerge after World War II. This treasure trove will cement his reputation.” —John Timpane, Philadelphia Inquirer

9/28/15            Associated Press / feature story on wire 

Autumn ‘15        American Scholar / review

“A major and most welcome cultural event. It will astonish most of Levi’s English-speaking readers by revealing the richness and extent of his oeuvre…Levi discharged this duty triumphantly in works of unequaled intellectual rigor, compassion, and modesty.” —Louis Begley, American Scholar

9/28/15            New Yorker / review 

“Represents a monumental and noble endeavor on the part of its publisher, its general editor, Ann Goldstein, and the many translators who have produced new versions of Levi’s work. Although his best-known work has already benefitted from fine English translation, it’s a gift to have nearly all his writing gathered together, along with work that has not before been published in English.” —James Wood, The New Yorker

9/28/15            Chronicle of Higher Education / review 

“A binge reader of The Complete Works of Primo Levi will encounter science fiction, natural histories, and accounts of young love. Levi not only plunders chemical terminology for metaphors describing human affairs (his memoir The Periodic Table is a brilliant example) but also holds up precise, restrained scientific analysis as a model for prose…As heir to the Italian Renaissance [Levi asks]: What is it to be human?…Amid the bluster and bilge of the violent moment, we need that kind of voice more than ever.” —Steven G. Kellman, Chronicle of Higher Education

9/24/15            Time Magazine / feature and interview with Ann Goldstein 

9/23/15                        Washington Post / review

“Old school publishing on a grand scale. Once more, Robert Weil of W.W. Norton, now director of its Liveright imprint, has produced a magnificent edition of an important, if slightly neglected, author…For such a gift as ‘The Complete Works of Primo Levi,’ one should probably do little more than express thanks…Whether as witness or imaginative artist, Levi stands high among the truly essential European writers of the past century.” –Michael Dirda, Washington Post

Sep ’15            Bookslut / feature

“He’s a great writer. Reading some passages is like watching a braid of distilled water arc into a beaker. You can delight in the beauty or, because of the clarity, “forget” that this is language at all and experience it as unmediated truth.” —David McConnell, Bookslut

8/4/15              Critical Mass / NBCC blog “What Are You Reading this Summer?” 

6/22/15            Publishers Weekly / Fall Announcements

6/8 – 6/15/15   New Yorker / first serial 

6/15/15           Kirkus Reviews / starred review

“Levi, a scientist and deep humanist, vividly comes alive in this boxed set. A laudable, monumental effort to gather the work of a crucial writer of the 20th century in one voluminous package.” —Kirkus Reviews / starred review

4/17/15            Publishers Weekly / publication announcement 

Comments are closed.