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I sommersi e i salvati (Auschwitz Trilogy #3)

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  2,421 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Una nuova edizione per un classico del Novecento. Il testo è accompagnato dall'introduzione di David Bidussa, da note bio-bibliografiche e da una scelta di letture critiche di Cesare Cases, Lorenzo Mondo, Frediano Sessi, Pier Vincenzo Mengaldo, Cesare Segre e Stefano Levi Della Torre. "Sommersi e salvati è un classico contemporaneo che portiamo nel XXI secolo. Occorre rile...more
Einaudi tascabili, 255 pages
Published January 2nd 1996 by Einaudi (first published 1986)
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An unrelentingly grim series of eight essays about the concentration camp experience, recommended only for true pessimists and those who think that Primo Levi is one of the very greatest writers about the Holocaust, which I do.

One thing Primo Levi does for us is complicate things. He explains :

Without profound simplification the world around us would be an infinite, undefined tangle that would defy our ability to orient ourselves and decide upon our actions. In short, we are compelled to reduce...more
A prima vista la Shoa appare materia senza grigio, niente sfumature: il bianco delle vittime, e il nero dei carnefici.

Ma è anche materia delicata come un castello di carte: perché, come dimostra Primo Levi in questa breve magnifica ulteriore riflessione sull’argomento, la zona grigia esiste eccome: è quella piega ambigua dello sterminio, si annida in quella schiera di persone che ha subito l’ulteriore oltraggio di essere sporcata dal proprio aguzzino.
È una zona grigia, da...more
Levi's last book is about several things:

- the necessity of witnessing to what happened in the Lager (camps), even though memory is fallible. Witnessing - telling the story - is not wholly possible, because those who have the truest vision did not survive. They reached bottom, and never came back.

- the moral structure of the Lager - the gray zone in which some prisoners collaborated with the guards, which improved their position slightly and also meant they would have to inflict suffering on ot...more
It's really too bad that the whole art-about-the-Holocaust market in the U.S. has been cornered by sentimental war-is-bad treacle in the Life Is Beautiful mode. Because Primo Levi lays it down.

What I admire most about Levi is his refusal to accept any of the easy answers that have been provided since the Shoah to "explain" the events that took place in Europe in the '30s and '40s. Instead of laying blame or bestowing forgiveness, he simply accepts historical events, and looks at how people beha...more
A lucid and thoughtful examination of lingering questions about the meanings of the Holocaust 40 years after Levi survived his internment at Auschwitz, with the focus more on understanding than blame. He is well known for his compelling narrative of his experiences in "Survival in Auschwitz" and for his excellent account of the aftermath and long interlude in Russian hands in "The Reawakening".

Here, in his last book before he died, he strives to makes sense of it all in a series of penetrating...more
Bianca Marconero
In questi giorni mi sono dedicata ad ultimare la lettura de 'I sommersi e i salvati' perché ci tenevo a finire entro oggi.
Questo titolo ha avuto un destino emblematico. Era quello scelto da Levi per la sua opera prima ( che l'editore poi cambiò in 'se questo è un uomo') ed è stato quello definitivo della sua ultima opera.
'I sommersi e i salvati' apre e chiude il cerchio di una testimonianza letteraria e storica, si presenta come un binomio, ma si risolve in un equivalenza, nell'idea che l'opzion...more
Natalie Zarowny
Wow. This novel is different from any other that I've read on the Holocaust, and I've read quite a few. Levi told his story through narrative in "Survival in Auschwitz" but in "The Drowned and the Saved," he's taking a look back at that and his other works, and his experience in general. This book is worth reading for everyone because of Levi's articulate and well-thought out points about the Holocaust, but especially insightful for someone who's been interested in the subject in a long time and...more
If you study WW II, you must read this book. It answers questions both spoken and unspoken.
Pierre Menard
Jul 15, 2014 Pierre Menard rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Who wants to understand without relying on convenient stereotypes
L’ultimo libro di Primo Levi, uscito nel 1946, è un saggio che si propone di tracciare un bilancio di quella parte della sua vita che fu dedicata alla memoria e alla testimonianza. Se pensiamo che Se questo è un uomo uscì nel 1947 e che l’autore si suicidò nella sua casa di Torino l’11 aprile 1987, è facile comprendere che a questo impegno fu sempre essenziale per Levi: in alcuni punti del libro si avverte l’intento di stabilire qualche punto fermo, di chiarire una volta per tutte alcuni dubbi f...more
As hard to read as this book is, I can only imagine how hard it was for Primo to write as he explores the 'logic' and method behind the concentration camps used by the Nazi regime. He applies a scientist's objectiveness and analysis to a subject that the rest of us find hard never mind the difficulties faced by those who experienced it. This work builds on his previous books, especially If This Is A Man, and shows that despite his ability to write objectively he has not forgiven and he certainly...more

This book seems to serve as a philosophical postscript to Sr Levi's previous writings in that it refers, and adds, to subjects and themes already covered in other books. It includes some very profound insight which shows the mind of an intelligent man still struggling, even at a distance of some 30 years, to come to terms with the events of World War II, Germany and the people involved; particularly 'the Germans' the elusive, passive enemy.
The most remarkable statement of this book is that, by...more
I love this book. We read excerpts of it in my Holocaust history class in college and I went out and got the book to read the rest of it. The chapter on Shame is amazing, and his thoughts about a new language to really talk about the Holocaust since "cold" "thirsty" and "hungry" didn't come close to describing what they went through.

"I must repeat: we the survivors, are not the true witnesses."

"Perhaps it would be more correct to see in it an atavistic anguish whose echo one hears in the second...more
Tony Johnston
For those who don't know, Primo Levi was a Jewish chemist from Modena, deported to Auschwitz in 1944 and liberated 11 months later. He died in the 1980's.

A lot of the book is about exploring the psychology of the trauma, both personal to him but also to nations and groups. Particularly interesting was to read how people (including me) have so many misconceptions. For example, he says that the biggest shock was that on arrival it was the other inmates who were aggressive to newcomers.

Lots of litt...more
Regarding the current events in my country, I could definitely (and unfortunately) draw some parallels and would recommend it to anyone to reconsider any convictions that he is bearing that the unimaginable could not happen again.

This is a brilliant book and I can only admire the author for his humanly way of describing this inhumanly, senseless terror. I have read quite a lot of books on this thematic, but none had such an impact on me. Each chapter has an insight into the human condition and...more
There are many memoirs about the holocaust, but I'd argue that there are not many that are as intellectually stimulating, morally conflicting, thought-provoking and philosophically interesting as "The Drowned and the Saved." Levi--an Italian Jew who was captured and tortured after 1943 when the Nazis came to his native Turin, Italy--was sent to Auschwitz and subjected to all the horrors of the death camps. In this striking work, the author looks back many years later and writes a series of eight...more
Primo Levi � stato un autore fuori dal comune, perch� fuori dal comune � stata la circostanza che lo ha portato a diventare uno scrittore: i suoi scritti testimoniano uno dei pi� grossi crimini che siano mai stati commessi nella storia dell'umanit�, raccontando i lager nazisti dal punto di vista dei prigionieri ebrei, i pi� numerosi, quelli per i quali campi di sterminio erano principalmente stati ideati. Con questo libro Levi tocca una vetta dolente e altissima del racconto-testimonianza, ripre...more
Tish Newmyer
This book was a selection of a book club that I'm in. I have read a slew of books about the Holocaust and wasn't sure that I was ready for another one. I was wrong.

What I liked about this book is that it is a reflection, and memories to put the reflections into context, about a horrific chapter in human history. Primo writes about the "gray zone" of inmate hierarchy including the Kapos and how the Nazi system of dehumanization led to situations where inmates hurt each other to survive. Other cha...more
Ioannis Savvas
Μετά το Εάν αυτό είναι ο άνθρωπος, το συγκλονιστικότερο βιβλίο για τις θηριωδίες των Γερμανών στα στρατόπεδα συγκέντρωσης που έχω διαβάσει, σε αυτό το βιβλίο ο Primo Levi παραθέτει σκέψεις για το πολυδιαβασμένο βιβλίο του και σχολιάζει εντυπώσεις των αναγνωστών του.

Με πολύ αναλυτική σκέψη προσπαθεί να προσεγγίσει το μεγάλο του ερώτημα: γιατί συνέβησαν όλα αυτά. Με το κριτικό βλέμμα του επιστήμονα, με στοιχεία από την ιστορία, την τέχνη, τις νευροεπιστήμες, προσπαθεί να δώσει μια εξήγηση, καθόλου...more
Preparing for the waterworks...

SO SO SO GOOD. This is probably the first novel/recollection from a concentration camp prisoner that addresses the experience of the horrors of Nazi rule in Germany and the occupation of surrounding countries, especially Poland and France with such intelligent commentary. Levi gives insight into what was expected of a prisoner, how proper communication was essential in order to survive, how one must endure the "useless violence."
This was the most fascinating book relating to the Holocaust I've ever read. It's very open about certain aspects of the psychology and sociology of prisoner life that I've never seen depicted or discussed in films or books on the matter.
Primo Levi wrote this book 40 years after the Holocaust, in effort to explain the meaning of the event so that it and its victims would not be forgotten. He is careful to discuss only that which he experienced first hand, so his writing is immediate and powerful. He doesn't accept any excuses from the German people and warns that it can happen again, anyplace, any time.
Christophe Nolle
In Primo Levis last book before his suicide, published 40 years after his liberation from Auschwitz-Monowitz, we are allowed a look into his perspective on guilt, shame and responsability for the Shoa. Although his thoughts are sometimes overwhelming because of their sheer density, the language remains clear and the judgment precise. Levi leaves us with a few answers and a lot more of questions unanswered...

In the end he states that "it happened, therefore it can happen again. That is the core...more
Of all the Holocaust-related texts I've read (as a recourse for taking a Holocaust-lit course), this is the best. Coming from the sciences, it's interesting to see Levi's flair for the poetic amidst his idealism. Of particular merit are the first chapter and the chapter concerning the "gray area." Levi is quick not to judge, and scholastically attempts to position the terrors of the Holocaust within rational frameworks. His chapters on Communication and Letters from Germans are not as crucial to...more
There are many first hand accounts of life in the German camps of Auschwitz, Treblinka, still more secondhand histories. For sheer unblinking depiction of the brutality of daily life of the camps, there are few accounts as shocking as Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.
But simple description, witnessing if you will, is not Primo Levi’s purpose, or at least not his only purpose in writing the books The Drowned and the Saved and If This is a Man. In these books we have...more
This bleak collection of essays is a significant departure from the main body of work in the holocaust genre. The author analyses several issues, including the lack of objectivity in eye witness accounts, the reasons for brutality, the ways shame manifested in the key players, and national culpability. The bleakness isn't necessarily due to the subject, but is created by Levi's mood and pessimism. Unlike many other holocaust survivors, he doesn't focus on redemption or deliverance; he draws no o...more
Editti d'offesa memoria

I sommersi e i salvati di Primo Levi è sicuramente il libro simbolo del Novecento; il testamento spirituale del membro più eminente di una categoria di scrittori e intellettuali nati nel cuore del secolo scorso, partoriti nell’orrore senza fine dei Lager nazisti. Umanisti moderni, sfuggiti dall’insidiosa penetrazione della vergogna, arrivati al punto di scandagliare il più torbido fondo del male, per poi fuoriuscirne, per raccontare, per alimentare le membra sempre troppo...more
THE DROWNED AND THE SAVED. (1988). Primo Levi. ****.
This was Primo Levi’s last book. In it, he tried to sum up his conclusions about the holocaust that he attempted to expound in his many earlier books. He admits, “An apology is in order. This very book is drenched in memory; what’s more, a distant memory. Thus it draws from a suspect source and must be protected against itself. So here then: it contains more considerations than memories, lingers more wilingly on the state of affairs such as it...more
Very interesting subjective analysis of what the Holocaust meant to someone who lived through it & survived internment in Auschwitz. I would give it five stars but for the fact that the book is not self-contained and refers to earlier writings, e.g., Survival in Auschwitz, in a manner suggesting that Levi presumes I've read that book, which I have not. The prose, translated from Italian to English, is captivating and I read for hours on end to complete the book in just two sittings. Other re...more
Jana Kaplan
Having read Levi's prior works of his experience and overall survival in auschwitz, i have a great appreciation for the masterpiece that is the drowned and the saved. it is a philosophical look at the questions (and answers) brought about by that thing that is the holocaust. he looks at the holocaust in retrospect, honestly, objectively and most importantly, on a moral plane. the only crime about this novel is the end chapter entitled "Letters from Germans" in which he shares with his audience t...more
I always wanted to read Primo Levi, especially "The Periodic Table". I picked it up a couple of weeks ago for 2 Euros at the British Bookstore in Vienna. While reading this book every night before falling asleep, I was often reminded of one of George Steiner's collection of essays, "Language and Silence." But Levi's book is far more confrontational and without compromise. The chapter entitled "Communicating" was especially compelling. Levi writes, of those in the camp (Auschwitz) who did not kno...more
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  • I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1942-1945
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  • The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942
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  • Shoah: The Complete Text Of The Acclaimed Holocaust Film
Primo Michele Levi (Italian: [ˈpriːmo ˈlɛːvi]; 31 July 1919 – 11 April 1987) was an Italian chemist and writer. He was the author of several books, novels, collections of short stories, essays, and poems. His best-known works include If This Is a Man (1947), his account of the year he spent as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland; and his unique work, The Periodic...more
More about Primo Levi...
Survival in Auschwitz The Periodic Table If Not Now, When? The Reawakening Se questo è un uomo - versione drammatica

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“I too entered the Lager as a nonbeliever, and as a nonbeliever I was liberated and have lived to this day.” 28 likes
“Logic and morality made it impossible to accept an illogical and immoral reality; they engendered a rejection of reality which as a rule led the cultivated man rapidly to despair. But the varieties of the man-animal are innumerable, and I saw and have described men of refined culture, especially if young, throw all this overboard, simplify and barbarize themselves, and survive. A simple man, accustomed not to ask questions of himself, was beyond the reach of the useless torment of asking himself why.

The harsher the oppression, the more widespread among the oppressed is the willingness, with all its infinite nuances and motivations, to collaborate: terror, ideological seduction, servile imitation of the victor, myopic desire for any power whatsoever… Certainly, the greatest responsibility lies with the system, the very structure of the totalitarian state; the concurrent guilt on the part of individual big and small collaborators is always difficult to evaluate… they are the vectors and instruments of the system’s guilt… the room for choices (especially moral choices) was reduced to zero”
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