Primo Levi, Dante, and the “Canto of Ulysses”
At Auschwitz, by his own account, Primo Levi was shocked into confronting his Jewishness by the wild course of events that allowed the Shoah to occur. Yet he was also candid in admitting that the experience had the positive effect of awakening in him a sense of identity and an attachment to his long-neglected “cultural patrimony” (Jewish and Italian), of which he would be proud and draw from for the rest of his life. The other positive effect Auschwitz had on Levi was that it led him to become the highly regarded writer he is today. Before Auschwitz, little did Levi know how important his educational background would be for his survival, in both physical and moral terms.
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- 1.For a more detailed account of the changes made, see Giovanni Tesio’s article “Su alcune giunte e varianti di Se questo è un uomo” Studi Piemontesi, VI, 2 (November 1977): 270–278.Google Scholar