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Answering AuschwitzPrimo Levi's Science and Humanism after the Fall$
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Stanislao G. Pugliese

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823233588

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823233588.001.0001

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Primo Levi and the Concept of History

Primo Levi and the Concept of History

(p.41) Chapter 3 Primo Levi and the Concept of History
Answering Auschwitz

Johan Åhr

Fordham University Press

After World War II, which wreaked havoc on a Europe still in shock and bleeding from the great war before it, a distrust and rejection of “historicism”—skepticism toward any abstract, imposing generalization about the character and trajectory of society and history except in defense of individual liberty and personal responsibility. The resistance to historicism was understandably tough and livid among Jewish European intellectuals, wherever the fates of war had pushed them. An abhorrence of this sort, though nobody has yet looked for it there, certainly agitates the writings of an Italian, Primo Levi. Because he was a man of science raised to value education and achievement, he knew how to craft articulate, purposeful prose. His writing is never just a list of facts, a mere catalogue of events. When he wants to, he shapes narratives that move gracefully through a beginning, middle, and end.

Keywords:   World War II, individual liberty, personal responsibility, Jewish European intellectuals, facts, events

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