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On Reading If This Is a Man

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Author: Alberto Cavaglion

Title: On Reading If This Is a Man

Translation: Alta Price

Year: 2014

Series: Primo Levi Papers

SKU: 16-1 Category:


In 2012 Einaudi and Centro Internazionale Studi Primo Levi in Turin published a new annotated version of Primo Levi’s  If This is a Man, by Alberto Cavaglion.

We are presenting here Cavaglion’s preface to his annotated version, which offers new insights, context and a wealth of detailed information that can deepen the understanding of Levi’s text.

“My humble commentary on If This is a Man aims above all to dig into the rich literary mine from which many of its words and expressions come. To give just one example of this mine’s material diversity, one of its ores, Dante, lies beside one of its gems, Baudelaire. The commentary also explores the relationship between what Levi called its “grammatical derivations” (for example, the frequent use of oxymorons and repeated conjectures, the many hypothetical passages) and a worldview “opposed to everything infinite,” fascinated but at the same time suspicious of two extremes – both the demons and degenerates and the saints and martyrs.”


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