[ Primo Levi] I Sommersi E I Salvati. by: Primo Levi. Topics: holocaust, ww2, concentration camps. Collection: opensource. Language: Italian. Levi, “I sommersi e i salvati” Vers. , n.d, ed. Giulio Einaudi, PDF of original Italian text. Buy I Sommersi e i Salvati by Primo Levi from Waterstones today! Click and Collect from your local Waterstones or get FREE UK delivery on.
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mitologici del viaggio in Se questo è un uomo e ne I sommersi e i salvati di Primo Levi PDF. Published. How to Cite. Prosenc Šegula, I. ( ). Primo Levi and the Field of Holocaust Memory in Post-War Italy,” Italian Studies, 61/1 le vittime dai persecutori:” Levi, I sommersi e i salvati, Opere, vol. Levi, Primo. I Sommersi e i salvati. Torino: Einaudi. aracer.mobiati. org/apm /abolizionismo/primo levi/aracer.mobi – The Drowned and the Saved.
A space for reflection upon, and a psychoanalytical hearing of, Primo Levi the man and the writer Teresa Carratelli Abstract The author reflects upon the role of Levi-the-Writer in assisting Levi-the-Man in holding the nameless physical and mental pain over the course of his enslavement in the concentration camps together with his Community and during his eventful journey home.
He made public a sui generis work of psychoanalysis through his novels which testify his reflective and observational abilities. The novels have proved to be important components of his survival in extreme conditions such as the ones Levi endured. Keywords Need to remember with the heart; Need to bear witness; Portraits as testimonial fragments; Process of psychological death and rebirth Full Text: References Antonicelli F.
La Stampa newspaper. Giannakoulas, A. Rimembrare la mente e rammentare il corpo Psicoanalisi, vol.
Levi, P. I Sommersi e i Salvati. Torino: Einaudi. Torino: Einaudi, Amaral de Oliv Italian author Primo Levi attempted to address this problem by revealing the aporetic and paradoxical nature of the process of elaborating a literary testimony: impossible, but necessary.
This article aims to analyse some of the ethical and epistemological issues that testimony of a traumatic event can raise for literature.
The hypothesis is that the testimony, as Levi elaborated it, contains a lacuna or a void, which is in fact what constitutes it: while witnesses present the limit-experience out of obligation, they cease to convey others due to inability or incapacity. The argument here is that what makes a testimony on a traumatic event possible is its incomplete nature, which gives strength to the process of communicating limit-experiences.
Keywords: Testimony. Primo Levi. Palavras-chave: Testemunho. Belo Horizonte, v. ISSN: That explains the difficulty — or even certain impossibility, as some authors have already affirmed survivors had in conveying the experience of the camps to the world, despite their obvious feelings of obligation. In view of the absurdity of the event that cost the lives of so many people, the experience cannot be fully narrated. Following this logic, I argue that what makes a testimony possible is precisely this gap, which gives the process of communicating limit-experiences its moral strength.
However, it is necessary to note that in addition to the lacunas in the testimony, there is the risk of an overvaluation of an experience by an individual narrator — that is, one who is isolated and separated from the exercise of otherness and collective legitimisation.
Responding to this question could throw light on the underlying ethics of the literary narrative of this consecrated Italian writer. Therefore, I will examine some of the aporias inherent in Levi's testimony, but also the strategies elaborated by the author in his narratives to overcome some of the problems related to the representation, legitimisation and communication of his limit-experience. The argument I will address here is that these strategies allowed him to avoid the tendency to confer a kind of excessive aestheticism to the social limit-experience, on one hand, and to simply reproduce the experience of an isolated individual, on the other.
Taking his writing as an x-ray of the experience in concentration camps, the objective of this paper is to reflect further, but not exhaustively, on the ethical and epistemological tone of his narrative works based on the issues raised by the author himself. Before he wrote, Levi had the almost neurotic habit of telling and retelling his experiences in the Lager to anyone who crossed his path — on the train, in the street, at work, at home — as he constantly searched for someone who was minimally interested in listening.
Telling my experiences is a necessity, and it takes strength to not write about them, to not mention them.
In my books, in the first ones but also in the most recent, I sommersi e i salvati, I needed to reorder this chaotic world, to explain it to myself and also to others. Later, in the final section of I sommersi e i salvati The Drowned and the Saved , it was already very clear for him what it meant to be a witness of Auschwitz.
His goal was to represent the inhumane with human words, or to describe the kingdom of death in proportions within the reach of common men. It is a cathartic requirement, at one time a poetic and cognitive catharsis, which aspires to give form to the malformed, to explain the inexplicable.
Nec flere, Nec indignari, sed intelligere. Hence, it is necessary to embrace the whole realm of death, which comes to life in his work, so much so that for the first time we really begin to know, and not just to intuit, what actually has occurred. The reconnaissance probe then returns to the surface bringing to everyone a compact and homogeneous world that, like ours, has its own politics, psychology, morality and economics: contrary to ours, it is true, but even so, no less precise and objective, not less pregnant with an infernal lucidity, as a negative utopia.
Levi's account runs along the same lines, as it seeks to comprehend the "kingdom of death" that was produced politically and culturally.
His scientific detachment from the literary form reveals the importance he gave to writing as a process of understanding and acquiring knowledge. In addition to the difficulty of basing one's decision to bear witness on the pain suffered and, consequently, placing oneself in the role of the narrator of the violence and the memory of the savagery, what one observes in passages such as this one is the pressing desire to present the experience of the Lager.
Thus, this was not an isolated thing or the product of a writer's mind, but rather something that appears constantly in the works of former concentration camp prisoners who became writers and later felt compelled to write their own stories. Primo Levi attributes his testimony of the Holocaust a central cause, which does not exclude luck or some decisive material circumstances.
This was an irreparable loss, as the number of victims and affected persons is still being discussed today: Before the Nazis used the gigantic and multiple crematorium furnaces, the countless corpses of the victims, deliberately murdered or destroyed by disease and suffering, could be evidence and thus should be eliminated in some way.
The first solution, so macabre that it is difficult to speak of it, was to simply pile up the bodies, hundreds of thousands of bodies, into large common graves, which was done particularly in Treblinka, in other smaller Lager, and on the Russian rear flank. It was a temporary solution, taken with a bestial neglect while German armies triumphed on all fronts and the final victory seemed certain: later one would see what to do about that, for the winner also owns the truth, and can manipulate it as he wishes.
The common graves would be justified, or eliminated, or even attributed to the Soviets who, moreover, demonstrated in Katyn not to be far behind.
However, after the turn of events in Stalingrad, they reconsidered: it is better to delete everything at once. The prisoners themselves were obliged then to unearth those poor remains and to burn them up in open fires, as if such an operation, so unusual, could pass unobserved.
Narrating a traumatic event presupposes certain proximity with the situations being narrated. It is because of this that the traumatic and shocking experience of genocide affects the relationship between remembering and forgetting.
It also disrupts the order in which the testimony is given, as it creates obstacles for its narration and its constitution as history. In the camps, prisoners were deprived of the human condition dignity, rights, citizenship, community, family, religion, profession, values and exposed to a policy of neglect, dehumanisation, and the degradation of life and death.
According to the Italian author, the news about the camps began to spread only in The stories were vague, but they more or less converged.
They spoke of such extreme brutality, of a massacre of such incredible proportions and with such intricate motives that people far away might refuse to believe them precisely because they were so absurd. For the author, people are not willing to hear or to be the bearers of terrible news, or they would do so "only in a certain pose or attitude — not as a conversational partner but rather as those who must submit to an unpleasant task with a kind of reverence that easily turns into disgust, two feelings that complement each other".
However this war may end, we have won the war against you; none of you will be left to bear witness, but even if someone were to survive, the world would not believe him. And even if some proof should remain and some of you survive, people will say that the events you describe are too monstrous to be believed; and they will believe us, who will deny everything, and not you.
We will be the ones to dictate this history of the Lager. After all, the version of history told is always "the history of the winners", as Walter Benjamin31 would say.
Primo Levi realised that the further the events that marked the massacre fade into the past, the more the "construction of the convenient truth" grows and is perfected. In this "truth", everything is denied: the photographs of the piles of bodies, the statistics on the millions of deaths, the deportations and the gas chambers.
It is so much more, and much more so when applied to men like those newly appointed. It presupposes a mental clarity that few possess and that even those few lose immediately when, for any reason, past or present reality within them cause anxiety or malaise. In these conditions, there are those who lie consciously, by falsifying coldly reality itself, but there are numerous who lift the anchors, move away, temporarily or forever, from genuine memories, and fabricate a convenient reality.
The past is their weight; they feel repugnance for things done or suffered, and tend to replace them with others. The replacement can begin in full awareness, with a scenario invented, deceitful, restored, but less painful than the real one; by repeating its description to others, but also to themselves, the distinction between true and false progressively loses its contours, and the man ends up fully believing the narrative created, pruning and retouching here and there the less credible details, or inconsistencies, or yet incompatible elements with the framework of the acquired events [ The silent transition from falsehood to self- deception is useful: those who lie in good faith lie more effectively, serve better their role, convince more easily believed the judge, the historian, the reader, the wife, children.
Things did not turn out the way the Nazis had hoped.
Therefore, the most important fact to be considered here is that even though the survivors' testimony is often influenced by want, doubt, fear and suspicion, it was born out of the moral need to remember and to build records that render the horrors committed public.
For Primo Levi, to write the history of the savagery in the form of literary testimony is to remember the death of the others. Walter Benjamin had noted a few years earlier that the memory is one of the most extraordinary human virtues — "the most epic of all the faculties". This means that Levi could be the engaged narrator that Benjamin admired: the one who, committed to the past, always keeps a keen eye on the clock, as "death has its place either at the front of the procession or as a miserable latecomer".
Levi used to say that his books did not add anything to the history of the camps, nor did they guarantee commitment to the exercise of writing. His intention was never to do the work of a historian or a sociologist or to exhaustively examine his sources. The book has been written then to satisfy this need: first and foremost, therefore, as an interior liberation.
Hence its fragmentary character: the chapters have been written not in logical succession, but in order of urgency. Both obey valid reasons: those who have experienced more deeply an uneasiness that, to put it simply, I called "shame", are silent, that is, those who do not feel at peace with themselves or whose wounds still hurt. I have sought to do so, and perhaps in part I have succeeded, but with the frequent feeling of producing an almost impossible piece of 43 LEVI, b, p.
The suffix "ism" denotes a systematic practice that is part of the common mindset that the media helps to create by using spectacular representations that present suffering as banal and "humanitarian" MESNARD, and perceiving and judging acts of extreme violence and horror as something natural, thereby contributing to their normalisation.
For Giorgio Agamben,51 what is left of Auschwitz is precisely this gap, or the impossibility of bearing witness on it — a task that legitimately belongs to the dead and the drowned. I will not explore here the limits of Agamben's theory, as it has been debated elsewhere. Levi reveals to us the risky and paradoxical grounds upon which the work of the witness is developed: it is impossible, but, at the same time, absolutely necessary.
We who were favoured by fate tried, with more or less knowledge, to recount not only our destiny but also that of the others, the drowned, as it were. The destruction brought to an end, the completed job, was not narrated by anyone, and no one ever returned to tell about his own death. The drowned, even if they had paper and pen, would not have testified because their death had begun before that of their body. Weeks and months before being snuffed out, they had already lost the ability to observe, to remember, to compare and express themselves.
We speak in their stead, by proxy. Thus, it is up to the survivors — that is, those who did not touch the bottom — to speak for the others, as they "know they are witnesses of a process of global and secular dimensions".
Therefore, the impossibility of giving a full testimony on the traumatic event is part of the structure of the testimony that is possible. This is why one must also listen to the silence, the ruins and the remains of the testimony. Interpreted through this logical prism, a large part of Levi's works can be seen not as a narration of a static "objective truth", but rather the intentional veracity of the narration of the facts.
Or, as Penna puts it, the truth about what happened in the past does not lie in the exact historical reconstitution of the facts, but rather in the "interval that unites and separates the survivor from what he experienced".
This is where a fundamental division in the testimony can be found: between the inability of some to speak and the possible testimony, albeit to a second degree, of others: the survivors. It is clear, then, that an essential part of the testimony on Auschwitz — whether in the form of testimonial or fictional writing, images or oral memory — is this lacuna. In other words, it is the space that remains between the figure of the complete witness true, but impossible and the material witness the fragmented, aporetic, incomplete, but possible one that remains.
To take this one step further, the testimony of the survivor is only true and has a purpose if it integrates into its core the accounts of the ones who could not bear witness of their own experience — of the ones who could not be their own historians. Its existence is validated if it includes the anonymous accounts of those who were unable to leave Auschwitz and if it serves in public as a second-degree testimony or as a testimony in which a possible witness bears witness.
It appears to me, then, that giving the floor to anonymous people, being the spokesperson for a delegation of the drowned or speaking based on one's proximity to those whose voice was lost is a role that Levi assumes in his autobiographical narratives: 55 LEVI, b, p. I must repeat: we, the survivors, are not the true witnesses.
This is an uncomfortable notion of which I have become convinced little by little, reading the memoirs of others and reading mine at a distance of years. We survivors are only an exiguous but also an anomalous minority: we are those who by their prevarications or abilities or good luck did not touch bottom.
They are the rule, we are the exception. Lombardi comments that: [ He narrates an episode that ends with the divine punishment for his defiance, which is, him telling the story of his own death. Ulysses is, ahead of time, the complete witness in the sense of the term, as defined by Levi in The Drowned and the Saved. Although a fictional character reinterpreted by Dante Alighieri, Ulysses is, in fact, the only witness who is able to describe his own death.
He is both the third-party distanced from the episode as the narrator of the episode and the survivor involved. He is the only complete witness.
The impossibility of giving a more complete account of the trauma would thus be exactly what makes it increasingly necessary. Only those who are conscious of the inherent problems of the representability of extreme situations and of the paradoxes and traps that the act of narrating imply are, in fact, able to elaborate a discourse on genocide that has historical and moral significance.
Primo Levi was aware of these limits and paradoxes. He believed that the one who narrates, bears witness and writes on the brutality to make it public knowledge reclaims silence in respect for the deceased. The impossibility of testimony consists of its possibility of "being founded on the account that is missing, of the one who essentially does not speak, the one who is absent and whom the testimony seeks to make present by proxy".
Levi's literary works are, each in its own way, as he himself stated, "political books", "moral books": they serve as a sort of "public service"63 that is categorically "imbued with memories"64 and functions out of a "moral obligation to the ones who were silenced". Through this mechanism of radical representation, one can perceive the interrelation between Levi's memoirs and an implicit and anonymous collectivity, since the legitimacy of his testimony derives from this radical otherness or the power he has to speak by proxy in the name of others.
Like a knot that ties together the components of a complex network, Levi's writing links the memories of the people who perished. Also, as an archetype for illustrating the "cases" of those who experienced the trauma of the Nazi massacre and bore the indelible scars left by the Lager, even after liberation, as well as of those who did not survive to tell their stories, Levi has succeeded in giving meaning to collective suffering.
Thus, the Jewish writer combined his memory of the Holocaust and the unavoidable incompleteness of the testimony of that trauma to be a possible narrator on Auschwitz and communicate his experience — and that of other anonymous voices silenced in the confines of the Lager — to the rest of the world.
Moreover, it is important to say that by doing so, he did not lean towards presenting a pathologically traumatic memory, or to a memory that is presented merely as an obligation. He was careful to elaborate his autobiography to give intelligibility to the Lager phenomenon, despite the obstacles and the subjective and objective difficulties 61 PENNA, , p. His attempt, then, was to constitute a kind of "mosaic of memories",66 capable of helping people learn about the experiences seen and lived.
One point to be highlighted here is that the witness's memory occupies the place of a group — of the dead and the mute, the drowned and the survivors — represented by the figure of the Muselmann — or of Hurbinek, a child of death, the child of Auschwitz.
It is the relationship with what is not there that defines the collective and political status of Levi's memoirs: a collectivity made up of remnants, which unites the one bearing witness with the one who is absent or the group of anonymous individuals. The testimony is not only a testimony on oneself, but above all a testimony on the radical alterity, of the collective impossible, but necessary other. This mechanism allows him to narrate the traumatic event while politicising his writing, which is one way the author found to recover the story of those who had succumbed or had survived without a voice.
The witness's writing transcends his own voice to give voice to the others.