University Press Copublishing Division / Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Trim: 6 x 9
978-1-68393-085-3 • Hardback • September 2017 • $100.00 • (£77.00)
978-1-68393-087-7 • Paperback • May 2019 • $40.99 • (£32.00)
978-1-68393-086-0 • eBook • September 2017 • $39.00 • (£30.00)
Robert Pirro is a professor in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Georgia Southern University.
Chapter One: Introduction
Part One: Motherhood and Fatherland
Chapter Two: Levi’s House as Repository of Domestic and Civic Virtues
Chapter Three: The “Evil Wet Nurse”—Agency and Relationship in Levi’s Short Fiction
Chapter Four: Primo Levi’s Machiavellian Moment—Resistance and Foundation in his Partisan Novel
Part Two: Motherhood and Fatherland in Auschwitz
Chapter Five: Levi as Storyteller--Forms of Agency in Auschwitz
Chapter Six: Infantile Regression and the Camp as “University”
Recent US scholarship on Levi (1919–87) has shifted from concentrating on his Auschwitz experience to focusing on the whole of his life and on his lesser works. In this sense Pirro’s study of agency complements Nancy Harrowitz’s Primo Levi and the Identity of a Survivor (CH, Jul'17, 54-5068). Like Harrowitz, Pirro (political science and international studies, Georgia Southern Univ.) examines Levi’s peripheral writings, looking closely at the science-fiction/fantasy stories and Levi's single novel, If Not Now, When? (1984). Pirro’s analysis of this novel constitutes the heart and soul of his book. He concentrates on the behavior of the two leading characters, representatives of Levi’s alter-ego, in their fight against Fascism as members of a band of Jewish partisans. Pirro bases his interpretation of the novel on insights into human agency in the writings of Machiavelli and Arendt. Pirro finds a unifying concept that reveals the foundation of Levi’s world view: i.e., all Levi's works—whether they relate to the horror of Auschwitz, the brutality of war, or the tyranny of immoral leaders—reveal a belief that humane social solidarity is a higher value than individual concerns, that the preservation of humanity and the prevention of despotism require that one think of oneself more as a social being than as an autonomous individual. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
— Choice Reviews
Robert Pirro's nuanced readings of Primo Levi’s lesser known fictive works serve to enlarge the possible meanings of Levi’s testimonial writings. He compellingly reconstructs the theories of agency at work in Levi's fiction and shows how they are intimately connected to his political thought and to his testimony. Pirro's original analysis demonstrates the relevance of topics not usually discussed in Levi’s work, including family dynamics and political yearnings, and makes the reader realize how persuasively central they are to Levi’s thought.
— Nancy Harrowitz, Associate Professor of Italian, Department of Romance Languages, Boston University, and author of Primo Levi and the Identity of a Survivor (2016)