13 January 2010

In ricerca delle radici (In Search of Roots), Primo Levi (#3)

Primo Levi, along with other various Italian authors of his time, was asked to compile and anthologize various writings that shaped him as a thinker, writer and man.  He pairs classical and contemporary, scientific books with fictional ones, and somehow it all makes perfect sense. Levi was not solely a writer. He was a chemist first, but always a reader. It was his experiences during the Holocaust that made him become a writer.

The project was unfulfilled by the publishing house (and, incidentally, Primo Levi is one of the only writers to take the task to heart), but the book speaks volumes about how Levi creates himself.  The passages from the books he chooses are not the most recognizable in all cases, but they are all very telling. Levi wrote that the project was not that diffcult for him, at least finding the passages, because they were the ones he had already marked up over and over.

The book is definitely helpful as I go into the dissertation, but it also made me think about the books that I would say have shaped me as a reader.  I've been thinking about it, and when I have an idea I'll share it.

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