By Sodi, Risa; Levi, Primo; Dante Alighieri
This unique and well timed quantity info the impression of Dante's Inferno on Primo Levi's vintage Holocaust narrative, Se questo è uomo, and his final ebook of essays, I sommersi e i salvatie. Such key thoughts as reminiscence, justice, and the world of the impartial sinners - «la zona grigia» for Levi - are given specific emphasis. 3 questions shape the spine of the e-book: Can reminiscence be conquer? the place is justice for the Holocaust survivor? and, Is there a center floor among sufferer and oppressors, and the way does Levi outline it? plentiful use of interviews with the writer exhibit how Levi relates those 3 inquiries to such modern figures as Sigmund Freud, Franz Stangl, Rudolf Höss, Jean Améry, Liliana Cavani, and Kurt Waldheim
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Extra resources for A Dante Of Our Time : Primo Levi and Auschwitz
37 44 The Grey Zone and the Neutral Sinners We may be tempted to ask, where are the "sommersi" in Dante? Although Levi's term "sommerso" comes directly from Dante, Dante's organizing structure left no place for Levi's sort of spiritual death. In fact, even the souls condemned to eternal suffering, those guilty of a lifetime of sin and debauchery, nonetheless spring to life upon seeing the River Acheron and the gateway to hell-a fact that surprised Dante himself. Virgil explains that even the lost are so spurred by divine justice "sl che Ia tema si volve in disio.
4 Much as Dante set aside a special place in hell for the neutral angels who "were not rebels, nor faithful to God, but were for The Grey Zone and the Neutral Sinners 32 themselves," so Levi has set aside a "grey zone" for collaborators, lowlevel functionaries, and prisoner-guards. Both of these categories warrant our attention, as does a third, which I will call the zona dei sommersi after Levi's latest book; if oppressive non-oppressors fall into a "grey zone," as Levi advances, then their soulless living victims ("i sommersi") fall into a similar limbo of their own.
Whatever the moral theology of the contrapasso," Freccero goes on to say, "at the level of representation, it is above all ironic wit. " 47 The very symbolic nature of the contrapasso makes it possible for us to accept Pier della Vigna becoming a tree, Ulysses consumed by flame, or Farinata within his eternal sepulchre. Not so the punishments apportioned in the real world, in our post-Holocaust world, where some of the guilty were put to death, some imprisoned, some ignored, some let free, and some rehabilitated and reabsorbed into society.