Primo Levi The Last Interview Conversations with Giovanni Tesio published by Polity is a book that you will cherish a lot, for many reasons. It's incomplete true, because this interview was in progress when Levi died tragically, but in this interview we see a fresh perspective of the author of If This is a Man.
Thanks to a chronological reconstruction that starts from Levi's childhood, we will read about beautiful fresh memories of a child with strong opinions regarding teachers not always great or particularly intelligent, or members of his family, like his dad, in grade of buying him every sorta of books, but distant from him for behavior, passions, and character.
Close to his mother, Primo Levi told to us everything about elementary school, high school. I remembered thanks to him the so-called "pensierini" that we had to write during the elementary school.
It will be touched the Gentile reform of the school wanted by Mussolini during the fascist era and what it meant studying in particular at the high school.
Levi will largely describe his difficult relationship with sex, an experience that he would have experienced later, after Auschwitz, but this being shy with the other sex meant to him a sufferance when very young because he saw the difference with his contemporaries.
He also told to Tesio that his grand-dad killed himself but he didn't know why and he hasn't never asked anything of it.
Suicide sometimes a thematic appearing during this interview.
Tesio, at the same time will tell that he visited him with the idea of the creation of an authorized biography in grade to include everything, starting from his childhood but also for keeping him some company. He knew he was depressed and that this depression could not let him write anymore.
The idea of a biography appeared abruptly in Tesio's mind.
I was curious to read which were the favorite books of Levi's childhood, and more or less he read the same italian classics books that we all read, starting from Cuore by Edmondo de Amicis, although he didn't go crazy for Salgari, but fell in love for Pinocchio by Collodi and American classics like the ones of Kipling. He said he loved to read a magazine very well done called Il Corriere dei Piccoli.
This book gives a reassuring dimension of Primo Levi's life.
If his life wouldn't have been so "broken" with discrimination because of the racial laws and later with the Second World War and Auschwitz' s experience" it would have been beautiful.
He was a chemist and he will tell later where he worked, what he did, his relationship with his boss, and also the reaction of his boss at Levi's success with his books.
Levi has always been in grade to divide the public Primo Levi, the one who told and re-told what happened to him and wagons of other people to Auschwitz, and his private life.
This, because of his origins, from Turin, a city in general where people are discreet and appreciate their privacy.
Maybe the immense success of If This is A Man, the translation in most countries catapulted Levi in a dimension as also written completely unwanted.
Levi didn't become "famous" because he wrote a novel of success. Levi became famous because a real witness of the devastating Nazi government policy against Jewish people and because he wrote of it reporting the dishumanity he experienced. It's a completely different perspective.
The last pages are white, as you will see, because there is an interruption.
Wanted? Unwanted? My brain started to work.
I remembered the news of the death of Levi of course, there was a great resonance in Italy.
We studied him, I read his book, but I didn't remember the day of his departure.
It was a Saturday, April 11 1987 the Jewish week day feast as it is for us Sunday. A day of feast...He told to the author that on Sunday he was waiting for an American photographer...
I thank Polity Books for the physical copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori