The Complete Works of Primo Levi, which includes seminal works like If This Is a Man and The Periodic Table, finally gathers all fourteen of Levi’s books—memoirs, essays, poetry, commentary, and fiction—into three slipcased volumes.
Primo Levi, the Italian-born chemist once described by Philip Roth as that “quicksilver little woodland creature enlivened by the forest’s most astute intelligence,” has largely been considered a heroic figure in the annals of twentieth-century literature for If This Is a Man, his haunting account of Auschwitz. Yet Levi’s body of work extends considerably beyond his experience as a survivor. Now, the transformation of Levi from Holocaust memoirist to one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers culminates in this publication of The Complete Works of Primo Levi. This magisterial collection finally gathers all of Levi’s fourteen books—memoirs, essays, poetry, and fiction—into three slip-cased volumes. Thirteen of the books feature new translations, and the other is newly revised by the original translator. Nobel laureate Toni Morrison introduces Levi’s writing as a “triumph of human identity and worth over the pathology of human destruction.” The appearance of this historic publication will occasion a major reappraisal of “one of the most valuable writers of our time” (Alfred Kazin).
The Complete Works of Primo Levi features all new translations of: The Periodic Table, The Drowned and the Saved, The Truce, Natural Histories, Flaw of Form, The Wrench, Lilith, Other People’s Trades, and If Not Now, When?—as well as all of Levi’s poems, essays, and other nonfiction work, some of which have never appeared before in English.
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.
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.