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From Chicago: Marco Belpoliti’s book on Primo Levi

January 2022

From Chicago: Marco Belpoliti’s book on Primo Levi

The University of Chicago Press announces the release in January 2022 of the English translation, by Clarissa Botsford, of Marco Belpoliti’s book Primo Levi di fronte e di profilo (Guanda, 2015). The American edition of the book will be entitled Primo Levi An identikit. In this book, a product of twenty years of research, Marco Belpoliti explores Levi’s tormented life, his trajectory as a writer and intellectual, and, above all, his multifaceted and complex oeuvre. The first major monograph (over 780 pages) by an Italian author on Primo Levi to be published in the United States, this work devotes a different chapter to each of Levi’s books. In addition to tracing the history of each book’s composition, publication, and literary influences, Belpoliti explores their contents across the many worlds of Primo Levi: from chemistry to anthropology, biology to ethology, space flights to linguistics. If This Is a Man, his initially rejected masterpiece, is also reread with a fresh perspective. We learn of dreams, animals, and travel; of literary writing, comedy, and tragedy; of shame, memory, and the relationship with other writers such as Franz Kafka and Georges Perec, Jean Améry and Varlam Shalamov. Fundamental themes such as Judaism, the camp, and testimony innervate the book, which is complemented with photographs and letters found by the author in hitherto unexplored archives.