Moments of Reprieve (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 26 Sep 2002
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About the Author
Primo Levi was born in Turin in 1919. The son of an educated middle-class Jewish family, he graduated with a degree in chemistry and found a job as a research chemist in Milan. In December 1943, he was arrested as part of the anti-fascist resistance and deported to Auschwitz. After the war, Levi resumed his career as a chemist, retiring only in 1975. His graphic account of his time in Auschwitz, If This Is a Man, was published in 1947 and he went on to write many other books, including If Not Now, When? and The Periodic Table, emerging not only as one of the most profound and haunting commentators on the Holocaust, but as a great writer on many twentieth-century themes. In 1987, Primo Levi died in a fall that is widely believed to have been suicide.
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Top Customer Reviews
I managed to get hold of a book of interviews with Primo Levi where he tells the interviewer that 'Moments of Reprieve' was basically the bits he left out of 'If This is a Man' and this is exactly how I would describe this book.
This can be read as a stand alone book but if you have read 'If This is a Man' first then you will be able to picture the scenes and the characters easier.
It is essentially a collection of essays based on the people he came into contact with in Auschwitz but one chapter sheds light on how he came to be in the hospital and therefore escaped the death march. This is a brilliant chapter and confirms Levi's own thoughts that his survival was down, at least at this point, to a massive stroke of luck.
The rest of the book is just as brilliant and for anyone that wonders why it wasn't incorporated into 'If This is a Man' it was due to factors such one as one character not giving him the permission to write about him at the time.
Generally these tend to be people that he met in the camp, and these moments that appear to briefly remind Levi that he is human and perhaps manage to, again briefly, transcend the horrific world of the Lagers. Elements of this story will be familiar to people who've read Survival in Auschwitz-If This is a Man?/The Truce and know of characters like Cesare. But Levi's focus is from another angle, as he notes in the preface "With the passing of the years, writing has made a space for itself alongside my professional activity [Levi was a chemist] and I have ended up switching to it entirely. At the same time I realised that my experience of Auschwitz was far from exhausted. I had described its fundamental features, which today have a historical pertinence, in my first two books, but a host of details continued to surface in my memory and the idea of letting them fade away distressed me..."-
This is writing that was NECESSARY for Levi to write (I'm sure there's a quote from Bellow or Roth stating that on one of Levi's books), & despite its subject matter- which is pertinent in a world where the BNP, fascism and xenophobia are more than apparent- it is a beautiful and occasionlly funny book (Levi details a few semi-comic experiences, though it feels absurd against the backdrop of the camp, e.g.Read more ›
This work is much smaller than “If this is a Man” and “The Truce”, which are often published together. I would suggest you read these works first before reading this one, which helps to make order of events. Those works I would venture to say are some of the most important of the 20th Century! In this one Levi wanted to write about ‘the human figures who stood out against the tragic background...the few, the different, the ones in whom I had recognised the will and capacity to react, and hence a rudiment of virtue’. He focuses on individuals caught up in the vast human tragedy that was Auschwitz in what he called ‘bizarre, marginal moments of reprieve’. In bearing witness to this he shows that man even in the most awful of conditions can still act decently and rise above the brutality. It is a brave book from a brave man who suffered so much!
Like the First World War that is so particularly poignant at this time, Auschwitz and the holocaust should never be forgotten. This little work helps keep the memory of those people alive, and the shadows are pushed away. We are brought that little bit closer to them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the first book I have read by Primo Levi; and I am filled with admiration for his celebration of the innate goodness of man, which shows itself in ways which are strange to... Read morePublished on 15 Oct. 2004 by jane churcher