Title

“This Speaks Volumes About How Deeply I Know the Human Soul”: Philip Roth and Primo Levi

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2021

Department

Italian

Language

English

Publication Title

Philip Roth Studies

Abstract

The personal relationship between Primo Levi and Philip Roth, two of the most influential novelists of the twentieth century, has been studied in depth, but scholars have devoted less attention to the recurring presence of Levi in Roth’s books. Following an overview of the interaction between the two writers, this article closely examines Roth’s understanding of Levi’s works and highlights the different ways in which the memory of the Italian writer emerges in Roth’s fiction and nonfiction. A close reading of Roth’s literary engagement with Levi shows that after the Italian writer’s suicide in 1987, Levi’s figure becomes a recurring presence in Roth’s oeuvre, particularly in its reflections on the responsibilities of a writer.

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