978-1-56584-645-6 / 9781565846456

The Voice of Memory: Interviews 1961-1987


Publisher:New Press



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About the book:

The Holocaust survivor, writer, and scientist Primo Levi, in his own words. 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. We recognize the familiar voice of Levi's masterpieces, from The Periodic Table to The Drowned and the Saved. But we also see a fuller, more varied, and more complex picture of the writer famously shrouded in his past. There is Levi the Holocaust witness; the writer; the chemist; the intellectual; the political polemicist; and the atheist and Jew, holding onto his Jewish culture while rejecting the symbols of a faith he could not share. Levi emerges in a rich, contradictory, and essentially human light--he was a classic figure out of place. As he put it, "I am an amphibian, a centaur. . . . I live with this paranoiac split." Levi's status as perhaps the most important of the survivor-writers of the Holocaust is enhanced still further by his many voices speaking in this remarkable book.

From The Voice of Memory: "Survival in itself proves nothing; as someone who has survived I do not feel in any way either a hero or a resister. I am at peace with myself because I have borne witness, because I kept my eyes and ears open so that I could tell the story of what I saw truthfully, with accuracy. . . . Even today, after so many years, I have preserved a visual and acoustic memory of my experiences there that I cannot explain. . . . For some reason that I cannot fathom, something anomalous happened to me, almost an unconscious preparation for the task of bearing witness."

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