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Moments of Reprieve (Auschwitz Trilogy)

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  596 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Primo Levi was one of the most astonishing voices to emerge from the twentieth century: a man who survived one of the ugliest times in history, yet who was able to describe his own Auschwitz experience with an unaffected tenderness. Levi was a master storyteller but he did not write fairytales. These stories are an elegy to the human figures who stood out against the ...more
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 172 pages
Published September 26th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 1981)
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112th out of 578 books — 2,343 voters
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Community Reviews

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Paul Bryant
May 31, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Primo Levi’s life was saved by these things

He was a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz but he was working as a chemist in the laboratory attached to the huge chemical plant there. (They didn't pay him very well. In fact, they didn't pay him at all.) In January 1945 he was looking around for something, anything, he could steal from the lab to trade for bread. Like all other prisoners, he was starving. He saw a dozen pipettes. He had no idea if anyone would trade for them but what the hell. He went to s
MJ Nicholls
Holocaust literature is all a reader needs to confirm his belief that existence is pointless, meaningless, cruel, and short. However, Primo Levi tried to raise a smile in spite of that fact in this collection of fifteen terse tales of notable moments of compassion, novelty, humanity, or noteworthiness at Auschwitz. In these elegant stories, Levi keeps the surrounding horrors outside the frame, and sketches various characters whose subversive courage and whose canniness kept them and others ...more
Apr 16, 2011 Velvetink rated it it was amazing
Primo Levi has written extensively about the Holocaust and his experiences in Auschwitz; If this is a man, The True, If not now, when?, The Wrench, The Drowned & The Saved.. But this is the first book I've come across of his in all my reading life. I first read briefly about Primo Levi not long ago in Bob Carr's "My Reading Life", but was prompted to seek Levi out after a conversation with Shellie(Layers of Thought) on GR. Shellie being the first person I had spoken to who had read and recom ...more
Jan 23, 2010 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So this is the first Primo Levi book that's left me disappointed. Moments of Reprieve is a sort of collection of deleted scenes from Levi's most famous work, If This is a Man, an account of his internment at Auschwitz, and before we get to Moments, it's important to consider why If This is a Man was such a success. Though that book was translated as Survival in Auschwitz for the benefit of the American market, the original title gives you a sense of what makes it so involving: Levi's attempt to ...more
Linda Lipko
Nov 16, 2015 Linda Lipko rated it liked it
Unlike his other books regarding the holocaust and camp internment, this is a book of Levi's ability to find some modicum of humor amid the horror. Looking back 40 years after writing In Survival in Auschwitz, the author found there were memories that surfaced that brought hope and exhibited the survival to find some meaning, perhaps a ray of sunshine peeking through the insanity.

Each chapter is dedicated to a particular person or incident. Many of these characters did not survive, and some Levi
Jan 02, 2008 Sunil rated it really liked it
My first completed read of the year, Moments of Reprieve, aptly described in its missive as a discovery of 'bizarre, marginal, moments of reprieve' charts the stories of a myriad variety of people, mostly Jews who Primo Levi had come across during his stay at Auschwitz. Among many others, a juggler, an almost mute worker, a mirror chemist, a helpful SS officer, are all bound in a conflict, both that ravaged their internal beings as well as the external world they inhabited in times where sense ...more
Kressel Housman
Primo Levi was an Italian Jew who began his career as a chemist, but was sent to Auschwitz, and after the war, became a highly-regarded Holocaust memoirist. This book reads more like short stories than a fluid narrative, and the concept behind the title is that it's meant to capture the moments of reprieve amidst the darkness of Auschwitz. The thing is, Primo Levi was an atheist, so his idea of a moment of reprieve was a Jew picking the lice off his head and putting it in a Nazi uniform. I ...more
Jan 24, 2016 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Incredible portraits of some of the complicated characters Levi encountered or heard about in the camps. He brings out the humanity in people who commit evil, and more so than in his prior two Auschwitz memoirs, shows the glimmers of goodness and hope that peaked through in hell.
Andrew Kosenko
Nov 01, 2016 Andrew Kosenko rated it it was amazing
Excellent little book. Full of memorable characters and stories, thoroughly humane.
Sep 22, 2016 Samuel rated it really liked it
Third Auschwitz book to read, it is not so gloomy.
A very good book to read to have a larger view of this era and Area.
Jason Kirk
Feb 13, 2014 Jason Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written late in his life, Moments of Reprieve depicts an assorted cast of friends, companions, and adversaries from Primo Levi's time in the infamous Nazi concentration camp, each essay rendered deftly from Levi's Italian into English by Ruth Feldman.

Inarguably enriched by a reading of Levi's other memoirs -- especially Survival in Auschwitz and The Reawakening -- "Moments of Reprieve" nevertheless stands on its own. With the distinct tone of long hindsight, what it lacks in immediacy, it
16 Well written stories, that Primo Levi wrote more than 30 years after 'Survival in Auschwitz'/'If this is a man', but that can be seen as a companion piece.
These stories are less horrific, but not as engaging as his initial memoir of Auschwitz was.

However there was one story that grabbed me by the throat : 'Lorenzo's return'. We already met him in 'If this is a man'. Now Primo Levi tells us what happened to him. Although Lorenzo was a good man, who probably saved Primo Levi and others from s
Jan 03, 2015 Les rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was probably an odd reading choice for the festive season but I'd wanted to read something by Primo Levi for ages. In some ways, I now wish I'd started with one of his earlier works. However, I still got something from Moments of Reprieve. The constituent parts of the book are quite slight but, collectively, they are a powerful testimony to of man's potential to be inhumane to man; made even more chilling by Levi's focus in this book on moments of relative calm - or reprieve - in between ...more
Jul 02, 2016 Sukaina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short, brilliantly visualised piece of writing that erupts in the mind with an almost cinematic quality. A meditative account that seeks to rationalise the quality of a God not unlike us, who must be flawed, it seems, if he allowed the horrors of visceral pain to exist and be inflicted upon during the barbarity of the Shoah.

While the tale of Shekinah and Lilith is interesting as an account that delineates certain aspects of Jewish, especially cabalistic theology, it is perhaps most shocking w
This is a companion piece to If this is a Man. A set of further anecdotes from Levi's time in Auschwitz that fill in some of the background, for instance there is mention of the factories where some of the inmates worked. Also a story in which a prisoner gets hold of a violin, too odd a story maybe to have been invented. No way as powerful, even taken together, as If this is a Man since it doesn't have the same narrative drive.
May 19, 2013 Annalise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it.
Such a refined pen.
Ranges from a world of humanity in inhumane concentration camps to the sadly ridiculous racist under- or overtones to a world where plants's pollen impregnates girls resulting in a progeny of tree-humans to his lovely village stories. Ever so present to his surroundings and inner being Levi's writings keep providing me with little big treasures making me want for more..
Sep 18, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
Excellent companion book to Survival in Auschwitz. It contains many short stories that recall moments during his imprisonment when Levi either met people or had experiences that allowed him to forget the intense pressures of his situation. He occasionally caught glimpses of the humanity and caring exhibited by some who were afraid to express their distaste for their work as officers or employees of the camp, and those accounts he gives us here.
Apr 10, 2016 Alina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the Author--it would be awesome to sit down with him and chat over some coffee. There were so many quotable lines in the book that I thought were pure gold. I liked the way he wrote; seemingly deliberately,he avoid any nuance of victimization, rather he focused on the strength and diligence of those who didn't let the Third Reich relish the satisfaction of their humiliation and suffering.
Oct 01, 2007 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2books
Primo Levi 'brings to life the friends, companions, and even adversaries who shared his experience of the Holocaust'. They are no longer faceless, but real human people. Primo Levi wanted to provide witness to those who didn't make it, telling their stories, so that we the readers could also witness. The stories are not all tragic, but 'bizarre, marginal moments of reprieve'.
Nov 01, 2012 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Primo Levi returns to some of his old characters, describing his experience of each of them in the same intriguing style employed in "If This Is A Man" et al. The tone of the book seems more hopeful and less despairing than his other Auschwitz memoirs. An essential read for anyone who has read Levi's more famous works.
Jun 14, 2010 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While these stories are not as compelling as Levi's more famous memoirs, they are still important. Here he's a witness to the stories of others, individuals that he couldn't get out of his mind. Each story is short, each focuses on one person and the quality that got that person through such horrendous times.
Nov 11, 2013 Justin rated it really liked it
Quick, easy, engaging read. Auschwitz in this story is like a city, where people are interacting with one another, sharing stories, trying to survive, just like outside the camp. He turns the camp not into a place that is desirable, but rather, one where it took will, perhaps faith, and a lot of luck to survive.
Mar 11, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
A collection of short essays about moments during author's time in Auschwitz. They show a little humanity at the worst of our inhumanity. Many were very moving and some came with a little humor. All were very touching and in a way gave hope for allof us in our worst times.
Paul Taylor
Aug 01, 2016 Paul Taylor rated it really liked it
Levi is one of the great chroniclers of the Holocuast having lived at the centre of it yet was able to maintain an objective commentators view of what happened. This book, whilst little more that the bits picked up off the cutting room floor, is an excellent complement to If This Is A Man.
Rob Innis
Jul 16, 2012 Rob Innis rated it really liked it
A collection of short non fiction pieces based on his actual Auschwitz experiences. Personal and insightful, good reading for those exploring the issues of The Final Solution.
Patti Rio
Apr 16, 2010 Patti Rio rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book that makes you appreciate how superficial and trivial the worries of everyday life can be.
Apr 30, 2010 Douglas rated it liked it
True accounts of a Jewish Italian living in Nazi concentration camps. Not a pleasant book, but if read, will help the reader to understand why WWII happened, and how to prevent another.
Robert Hiorns
Feb 09, 2015 Robert Hiorns rated it it was ok
The short accounts (Moments) are quite banal and ordinary, if as reader you had not been in Auschwitz. The Moments describe reprieve, if only for a minute.
Verzameling verhalen geschreven na 1975.
Conclusie: Levi blijft toch op zijn best als hij rechtstreeks vertelt over zijn kamp-ervaringen.
May 31, 2016 Hal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short episodes from his memories of his time in the lager, written late in life. Some more powerful than others, though as a whole, not his most moving work.
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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 extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland; and his unique work, The Periodic ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Auschwitz Trilogy (4 books)
  • Survival in Auschwitz
  • The Reawakening
  • The Drowned and the Saved

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