Primo Levi and the Politics of Survival

By Frederic D. Homer | Go to book overview
Save to active project


I must have by then overcome the most terrible crisis, the crisis of having become part of the Lager system, and I must have developed a strange callousness if I then managed not only to survive but also to think, to register the world around me, and even to perform rather delicate work, in an environment infected by the daily presence of death.

The Periodic Table

That evening I brought into camp the small rods and Alberto a metal plate with a round hole: it was the prescribed caliber to which we had to thin down the rods in order to transform them into flints [for lighters] and therefore bread…. We worked for three nights: nothing happened, nobody noticed our activity, nor did the blanket or pallet catch fire, and this is how we won the bread which kept us alive until the arrival of the Russians and how we comforted each other in the trust and friendship which united us.

The Periodic Table

Primo Levi's observations in the Lager led him to conclude that the prisoners had very little latitude for choice and were forced into rigid patterns of conformity: “In reality, in the vast majority of cases, their behavior was rigidly preordained.”1 However, Levi and other prisoners found that even under such harsh and unconditional circumstances of slavery, they could use will and guile. Here we find Levi's ambivalence about existence that

The Drowned and the Saved, 49. Future references will be cited parenthetically in the text.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Primo Levi and the Politics of Survival


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 278

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?