What happens in the mind of a person when constricted to staying in jail for political reason or deported like Primo Levi during the last World Conflict spending for senseless reasons 18 months of his life in a Nazi camp, the one of Auschwitz, and becoming this one an experience with which he would have coped with extreme difficulty for the rest of his life? Why the innocent suffers? Why is there injustice in this world? How can a mind survive, without to become crazy, more than a body in a restricted, limited space?
Which are the intimate reasons that can stimulate the writing, trying to healing the wounds created by years spent segregated?
Consolations of Writing Literary Strategies of Resistance from Boethius
to Primo Levi written by Rivkah Zim takes in considerations various
intellectuals, trying to describe their intimate horror because in jail
or deported, and how their writing helped them to coping with what they
lived at the moment.
I loved to read the chapters about Primo
Levi. His masterpiece Se questo è un uomo, If this is a man should be
read by everyone, because it's terribly important to discover the
atrocities committed by the nazists for avoiding new episodes like the
ones lived more than 70 years ago.
Telling, sharing, has a big power,
although for example Primo Levi started to write at first with a sort
of reluctance, only once returned home.
Why reluctance? First of all: people would have believed what he would have told them? The atrocities his eyes saw?
writing is the voice and strength of the survivors, the voice of the man who, once
returned home can tell, and can report the horrors committed by men
against other men.
It is a resonant voice for all the voiceless
people killed by Nazis and at the same time the most terrible experience
for Levi: to be a survivor. Why did he survive while other people died?
Living all his life with this sensation of culpability when substantially
there wasn't any guilt in living and continuing to living and to being alive.
it is impossible to escape from a prison that one can become also your
mental prison, a prison Primo Levi has never completely abandoned
because of the lack of dignity, the impossibility to be real men,
because people reduced to live like beasts and treated not anymore
as human being, something that persecuted Levi forever.
He will always ask: why?
situation the one experienced by Bunyan and Oscar Wilde. If the first
one tried to search consolation in God, the second one once in jail
because accused of homosexuality, lived the time spent in prison with
great intolerance and thinking that although he was in love with his
partner Douglas maybe it was better if he would have given up this
relationship for saving to himself all of it because for this love he
was in jail. Oscar Wilde had a great consideration and self-esteem for
his persona, and during the time of the confinement produced a
beautiful work, the De Profundis remarking his love for Douglas but also his poor condition.
Other very interesting chapters involve Boethius and Bonhoeffer, More and Gramsci, Anne Frank and Roland.
an intense reading this one but if you love literature and you want to
discover where and how and the reason why certain masterpieces are born
this book is for you.
Sometimes literature is not a product as
this book wants to saying of freedom and relaxation, of a happy mind but
of sufferance and deprivation of freedom although its message will
result divine because felt, lived, real creating immortal masterpieces
like the Diary of Anne Frank, the De Profundis, If this is a man
entering in the hearts of readers for remaining there forever.
I thank Princeton University Press for the physical copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori