Biography of Primo Levi

Primo Levi was an Jewish-Italian writer born in Turin in 1919. During World War II, he was arrested as a member of the anti-Fascist resistance movement and interned in a camp in northern Italy before being deported to Auschwitz in 1944. He considers himself fortunate that he was only deported to Auschwitz after the German government decided to expand the prisoners' life spans to increase the camp's efficiency. His experiences in the camp are documented in two books, Survival in Auschwitz and The Reawakening. He is also the author of three further books, one of which, If Not Now, When?, was awarded the Viareggio and Campiello Literature Prizes in Italy in 1982. A painfully shy young man, Levi attributes his shyness to the antisemitism that was rife in Mussolini's Italy. Levi and several other Jewish friends were jeered at by "Aryan" schoolmates; his shyness, though, gave him a talent for observing, which enabled him to write in such detail about his time at Auschwitz. Although a chemist by profession (a profession which ultimately provided him with the key to survival in the camp) Levi is widely regarded as a natural writer because of his perceptive observations about human nature. After liberation, he became the manager of a factory in his hometown of Turin until his retirement in 1977. From then on, he devoted himself full-time to writing. He died in 1987 after falling from his third-story apartment. There is debate on whether Levi's death was a suicide.

Study Guides on Works by Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz is a memoir written by Primo Levi, an Italian Jew who was imprisoned in one of the Nazis' infamous death camps from 1944 through to the fall of the Third Reich in late 1945. Levi states that he did not write the book just to...