Primo Levis Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics

Hardcover | November 1, 2001

byRobert S. C. Gordon

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Primo Levi was perhaps the most humane and eloquent writer of testimony to emerge from the Nazi Holocaust. But he also went beyond testimony in his work, tackling many of the founding ethical questions of what it is to be human, 'how to live'. Whether in accounts of the concentration camps,essays, science-fiction, autobiography, poetry, or fiction, he always approached his writing with a questioning, ethically open and alert eye. This book explores the extraordinary depth of Levi the ethical writer across his entire oeuvre for the first time, by way of thirteen so-called 'ordinaryvirtues', that is the ways and means Levi forges for practically and compassionately engaging with the world. It draws on a wide range of recent thinking about Holocaust literature and the general relationship between literature and ethics. From the book a new understanding of Levi's importance asboth witness and writer emerges, enhancing his status as one of the key literary figures of the twentieth century.

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Primo Levi was perhaps the most humane and eloquent writer of testimony to emerge from the Nazi Holocaust. But he also went beyond testimony in his work, tackling many of the founding ethical questions of what it is to be human, 'how to live'. Whether in accounts of the concentration camps,essays, science-fiction, autobiography, poetry...

Robert S. C. Gordon is at University Lecture in Italian, Cambridge University, and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:328 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.87 inPublished:November 1, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198159633

ISBN - 13:9780198159636

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Table of Contents

AbreviationsIntroduction: Beyond TestimonyI: The Ethical Turn1. Looking2. Memory3. Discretion, or Language and Silence4. UsesII: Wit, or Practical Intelligence5. Measure, or a Sense of Limit6. Practice, or Trial and Error7. Perspective, or Looking Again8. Invention, or First ThingsIII: Community9. Common Sense10. Friendship11. StorytellingIV: Diversions12. Irony, or Wit Revisited13. PlayBibliographyIndex