Ever since my first book, Se questo e un uomo, I wanted my works— though they appeared under my name—to be read as collective works.
cited in Myrna Cicioni's Primo Levi: Bridges of Knowledge
It is common knowledge that nobody is born with a decalogue already formed, but that everyone builds his own either during his life or at the end, on the basis of his own experiences, or of those of others which can be assimilated to his own; so that everybody's moral universe, suitably interpreted, comes to be identified with the sum of his former experiences, and so represents an abridged form of his biography.
Primo Levi was born in Turin, Italy, in 1919 and was trained as a chemist, but he only briefly practiced his trade before World War II intruded. He joined the anti-Fascist resistance and was immediately arrested by the Fascist Militia in December 1943 at the age of twenty-four. After a short internment in Fossoli, a camp where the Italians in charge assured him that he would spend the rest of the war, the Germans took over. Levi left on a train destined for Auschwitz in late February 1944. In late January 1945, the Russians reached Auschwitz, and it took him until October 1945 to reach his home in Turin. His experience at the death camp and his subsequent travels through Eastern Europe were the subjects of his memoirs, Survival in Auschwitz (Italian title: Se questo e un uomo, “If this is a man”)