Primo Levi

(1919 - 1987 / Turin / Italy)

Primo Levi Quotes

  • ''Anyone who has obeyed nature by transmitting a piece of gossip experiences the explosive relief that accompanies the satisfying of a primary need.''
    Primo Levi (1919-1987), Italian chemist, author. repr. In The Mirror Maker (1989). "About Gossip," La Stampa (Turin, Italy, June 24, 1986).
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  • ''The bond between a man and his profession is similar to that which ties him to his country; it is just as complex, often ambivalent, and in general it is understood completely only when it is broken: by exile or emigration in the case of one's country, by retirement in the case of a trade or profession.''
    Primo Levi (1919-1987), Italian chemist, author. "Ex-Chemist," Other People's Trades (1985, trans. 1989).
  • ''I live in my house as I live inside my skin: I know more beautiful, more ample, more sturdy and more picturesque skins: but it would seem to me unnatural to exchange them for mine.''
    Primo Levi (1919-1987), Italian chemist, author. "My House," Other People's Trades (1985, trans. 1989).
  • ''The aims of life are the best defense against death.''
    Primo Levi (1919-1987), Italian author. The Drowned and the Saved, ch. 6 (1988).
  • ''Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument.... The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features.''
    Primo Levi (1919-1987), Italian author. The Drowned and the Saved, ch. 1 (1988).

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The Survivor

Once more he sees his companions' faces
Livid in the first faint light,
Gray with cement dust,
Nebulous in the mist,
Tinged with death in their uneasy sleep.
At night, under the heavy burden
Of their dreams, their jaws move,
Chewing a non-existant turnip.
'Stand back, leave me alone, submerged people,

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