The Biographical Fallacy

  • Alexander Stille
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


The relation between an artist’s work and biography is always complex and becomes especially so when the artist dies under extraordinary circumstances: murder, suicide, or unaccounted disappearance. People tend to take a teleological approach to his work, reading it backward from the death to the beginning, and everything now seems to point inevitably toward the terrible end.


Filial Piety Artistic Creation Female Friend Sexual Inhibition Suicide Note 
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  1. 4.
    Cynthia Ozick, review of Primo Levi’s The Drowned and the Saved in The New Republic, March 21, 1988Google Scholar
  2. reprinted in Cynthia Ozick, Metaphor and Memory (New York: Vintage, 1991), 34–38.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Ian Thomson, Primo Levi (London: Hutchinson, 2002; New York: Metropolitan, 2003)Google Scholar
  4. Carole Angier, The Double Bond: A Biography of Primo Levi (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    David B. Cohen, Out of the Blue: Depression and Human Nature (New York: Norton, 1995), 115, 122–123, 131; quoted in Gambetta, “Primo Levi’s Last Moments.”Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stanislao G. Pugliese 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Stille

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