Animals and Animality in Primo Levi's Work

Animals and Animality in Primo Levi's Work

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Description

Situated at the intersection of animal studies and literary theory, this book explores the remarkable and subtly pervasive web of animal imagery, metaphors, and concepts in the work of the Jewish-Italian writer, chemist, and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi (1919-1987). Relatively unexamined by scholars, the complex and extensive animal imagery Levi employed in his literary works offers new insights into the aesthetical and ethical function of testimony, as well as an original perspective on contemporary debates surrounding human-animal relationships and posthumanism.

The three main sections that compose the book mirror Levi's approach to non-human animals and animality: from an unquestionable bio-ethical origin ("Suffering"); through an investigation of the relationships between writing, technology, and animality ("Techne"); to a creative intellectual project in which literary animals both counterbalance the inevitable suffering of all creatures, and suggest a transformative image of interspecific community ("Creation").
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Product details

  • Paperback | 298 pages
  • 148 x 210 x 17.02mm | 420g
  • Cham, Switzerland
  • English
  • Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 2018
  • 1 Illustrations, black and white; XX, 298 p. 1 illus.
  • 3030100367
  • 9783030100360

Back cover copy

Situated at the intersection of animal studies and literary theory, this book explores the remarkable and subtly pervasive web of animal imagery, metaphors, and concepts in the work of the Jewish-Italian writer, chemist, and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi (1919-1987). Relatively unexamined by scholars, the complex and extensive animal imagery Levi employed in his literary works offers new insights into the aesthetical and ethical function of testimony, as well as an original perspective on contemporary debates surrounding human-animal relationships and posthumanism.

The three main sections that compose the book mirror Levi's approach to non-human animals and animality: from an unquestionable bio-ethical origin ("Suffering"); through an investigation of the relationships between writing, technology, and animality ("Techne"); to then enter upon a creative intellectual project in which literary animals both counterbalance the inevitable suffering of all creatures, and suggest a transformative image of interspecific community ("Creation").
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Table of contents

1. Introduction. Primo Levi and the Question of the Animal.- 2. Suffering I. Shared Vulnerability.- 3. Suffering II. Muteness and Testimony.- 4. Techne I. Animal Hands.- 5. Techne II. Hybrids and Hubris.- 6. Creation I. A New Writing.- 7. Creation II. Re-Enchantment.- 8. Conclusion. Animal Testimony.- Index.
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About Damiano Benvegnù

Damiano Benvegnu is a Lecturer in Italian at Dartmouth College, USA, and an Associate Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. His current published work focuses on representations of animals, animality, and the environment in modern literature, visual art, and philosophy. He has previously published on minority languages and literatures.
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