Primo Levi’s Short Stories: A Modern Midrashim

  • Raniero M. Speelman
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


Primo Levi remains less known as a writer of short stories than as one of longer writings. This is, of course, understandable in the light of the fundamental importance of what he wrote on the Shoah. Those writings have, however, a double nature: both testimony and narrative, both sociological analysis and description. They are in fact what we may call midrashim (from the Hebrew root drsh, cf. the word darasha, “preach”). Midrashim are not just stories, but have a deeper meaning as well, which may invite the reader to think about them. It is this double nature that we should always keep in mind when examining the particular character of Primo Levi’s narrative work.


Periodic Table Short Story Frame Story Double Nature Graffito Artist 
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  1. 7.
    P. V. Mengaldo, “Lingua e scrittura in Levi,” in Primo Levi, Opere III (Turin: Einaudi, 1997), now in E. Ferrero (ed.), Primo Levi: un’antologia della critica (Turin: Einaudi, 1997), 169–242.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    Primo Levi, Opere I (Turin: Einaudi, 1997), 1125–1135; the story had been originally published in Il Mondo in 1961.Google Scholar

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© Stanislao G. Pugliese 2005

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  • Raniero M. Speelman

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