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Auschwitz and After: Bryn Mawr Professor Nicholas Patruno Speaks on Primo Levi

primo levi

Primo Levi

Each year, the Alfred F. Mannella and Rose T. Lauria-Mannella Distinguished Speakers Series presents a lecture on Italian history and culture. This year’s lecture, on Jewish-Italian author and Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, will be given by Nicholas Patruno, Ph.D., at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010, in Falvey Memorial Library’s first floor lounge.

Dr. Patruno, professor emeritus in the department of Italian at Bryn Mawr College, was initially “surprised,” he says, when asked to write a book on Primo Levi. He took up the challenge, though, because he ranks Levi as “among the most important writers of post-World War II Italy and, internationally, among the most important writers of the 20th century.”

The University of South Carolina Press published Dr. Patruno’s book, Understanding Primo Levi, in 1995. The book, he notes, “is the first analytical study on Primo Levi’s opus to appear in English, thus opening the door to the several other fine books on Levi, written in English, that have followed.”

Primo Levi is best known for his book If This is a Man (published in the U.S. as Survival in Auschwitz), an account of the year he spent in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. “The eloquence of [Levi’s] writings,” Dr. Patruno says, “on the Holocaust and on other topics, is reflective of the extreme clarity of his thinking. He is important to us today, as he will be in the future, because his voice on exposing and denouncing human suffering ranks among the most recognized worldwide.”

For those interested in Primo Levi’s work, he recommends reading The Periodic Table. He continues, “If students wish to learn about the Holocaust, Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz, The Reawakening and The Drowned and the Saved are a must.”

Dr. Patruno’s lecture will “trace Levi’s life and literary persona as they evolve in the aftermath of his Auschwitz experience and point to the legacy he has left for us all.” The lecture is free and open to the public.

The Mannella Distinguished Speakers Series is made possible by the generous support of Villanova University alumnus Alfred S. Mannella.

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Last Modified: October 15, 2010