The Search for Roots
A Personal Anthology
By Primo Levi
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"The Search for Roots" is an anthology of writing that Primo Levi considered to be essential reading. Beginning with The Book of Job, that drama of the just oppressed by injustice, these thirty pieces with introduction by Levi, reflect his profound k Continue
"The Search for Roots" is an anthology of writing that Primo Levi considered to be essential reading. Beginning with The Book of Job, that drama of the just oppressed by injustice, these thirty pieces with introduction by Levi, reflect his profound knowledge of science and deep passion for literature, and his survival of Auschwitz, making it a collection that is both universal and poignantly autobiographical. Levi suggests four routes through these writings, the four responses that helped him ward off despair and find salvation in an apparently indifferent universe. These are salvation through laughter, through knowledge, through language and through understanding the stature of man. With this in mind, he presents familiar voices: Swift, Conrad, T.S. Eliot and Arthur C. Clarke, and introduces us to less familiar ones: Lucretius, Giuseppe Belli, Fredric Brown, Stefano D'Arrigo and Hermann Langbein. Most of the pieces, as Levi comments, reflect the fundamental dichotomies that face us all: "falsehood/truth, laughter/tears, judgement/folly, hope/despair, triumph/disaster".
Many have their roots in Levi's experience of Auschwitz, and in their startling juxtaposition they give the impression of a world turned upside down. As Peter Forbes says in his introduction, "In the context of the 21st century, all of Levi's choices are striking"; they exhibit "a kind of chastened curiosity rare in our time, and an undiminished sense of wonder and horror at a universe that has such things in it".