HRC Italian Seminar. Prof Giuseppe Stellardi (University of Oxford): "Allegories of Literature: the case of Primo Levi's 'Se questo è un uomo.'"
Respondent: Prof Jennifer Burns (Warwick)
Abstract: The enduring and palpable significance of Levi's most famous book in terms of testimony, analysis, meditation and warning should not obliterate its literary value. And this not only in the sense that the book has literary value, which deserves to be appreciated and investigated in its own right; but also in the sense that it addresses the meaning and purpose of literature within the very specific circumstances from which it arose. Admittedly, it does this most of the time by indirect means; but on at least one occasion in the course of the narrative the blinding power of an exemplary situation is such as to justify the suggestion that what Levi is setting up for the reader is nothing less than an allegory of the literary act itself. The focus of this talk will be Chapter 11 of Se questo è un uomo, "Il canto di Ulisse".