I can't remember how old I was when I read Primo Levi's If This is a Man, and The Truce two interlinked books in one volume , but it wasn't my youth and impressionability which gave it such power. It was the sheer, unmitigated truth of it; the sense of what a book could achieve in terms of expanding one's own knowledge and understanding at a single sitting. Because you do read this in a single sitting: it is a terrible exposure of man's capacity for harm and annihilation on an unprecedented scale, a narrative of appalling suspense, and re-reading it now, the impact is just as great as it ever was. Primo Levi, then a young Italian chemist from Turin, was incarcerated in the Birkenau concentration camp in and was one of the three out of the people consigned with him to survive not only a year of the killing regime, but also the long, insanely complicated, starvation-filled route home across Europe, described in The Truce. Twenty months of dehumanising hell and murder, without, even now, a logical explanation.
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It is the sequel to If This Is a Man and describes the author's experiences from the liberation of Auschwitz Monowitz , which was a concentration camp , until he reaches home in Turin, Italy, after a long journey. He describes the situation in different displaced persons camps after the Second World War. Here people and landscapes come vividly alive in a bizarre, often comical series of events and human encounters; a truly remarkable tale. Levi himself reminisces a bit about a character in the book in his The Paris Review interview: "Have you read my book The Reawakening?
You remember Mordo Nahum? I had mixed feelings toward him. I admired him as a man fit for every situation. But of course he was very cruel to me. He despised me because I was not able to manage. I had no shoes. He told me, Remember, when there is war, the first thing is shoes, and second is eating. Because if you have shoes, then you can run and steal.
But you must have shoes. Yes , I told him, well you are right, but there is not war any more. And he told me, Guerra es siempre.
There is always war. The book starts with the departure of the Germans from the camp. As all the services have left the camp, exploration journeys begin in search for food and essential items. When they arrive the Red Army is shocked by the state of the people in the camp and they provide basic medical aid. All remaining inmates are taken to a hospital in the main camp.
After the protagonist has regained some strength, he starts a long journey. The plan was to go south to Odessa but instead he had to take the train northwards and arrives at Slutsk Belarus. From there he walks and rides in a horse cart to Starye Dorogi where he lives inside Krasny Dom "Red House" and works as a medical assistant. Then, after weeks, a Russian Marshal , Semyon Timoshenko , came to the displaced persons camp and declared that they can make their way back home now.
By train the journey continues southwards and then westwards: Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. After 35 days of travel since leaving Krasny Dom he arrives in his home town Turin, which he had last seen 20 months ago. This book was adapted as a screenplay by Tonino Guerra for a film directed by Francesco Rosi , also titled The Truce From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Autobiographical book by Primo Levi. For other uses, see The Truce disambiguation. Foreign Affairs. The Paris Review. Interviewed by Gabriel Motola. Works by Primo Levi. The Search for Roots Collected Poems. Primo film The Truce film. Hidden categories: Articles with short description Articles containing Italian-language text All stub articles. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history.
The Truce by Primo Levi (1963)
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If This Is a Man • The Truce
Primo Levi was 24, a chemistry student from Turin, when he was shipped off to Auschwitz concentration camp in February Second time around it was a phenomenal success and prompted Levi to write a sequel, an account of what happened to him between the liberation and his final return to Turin. The Truce is that book, published in , translated The two books are so closely tied together in chronology, subject matter and theme that they are generally published together in one volume, like the Abacus paperback edition I refer to here.
The Truce: how Primo Levi rediscovered humanity after Auschwitz
Primo Levi did not consider it heroic to have survived eleven months in Auschwitz. Like other witnesses of the concentration camps, he lamented that the best had perished and the worst had survived. But we who have survived relatively little find it hard to believe him. How could it be anything but heroic to have entered Hell and not been swallowed up? To have witnessed it with such delicate lucidity, such reserves of irony and even equanimity? Our incomprehension and our admiration combine to simplify the writer into a needily sincere amalgam: hero, saint, witness, redeemer.
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