A phone conversation with Primo Levi

Copertina di "Una telefonata con Primo Levi"
Stefano Bartezzaghi
Lezioni Primo Levi
Year of publication

"A written book must be a telephone that works". This sentence, spoken during a radio conversation, is just one symptom of Primo Levi's interest in human communication.

No linguistic phenomenon escaped the chemist-writer's searching gaze: etymologies and word games (such as palindromes and rebuses); laboratory jargon and concentration-camp slang; poetry-writing machines and computer networks imagined by Levi before their time.

In his writings and in his encounters with other writers (direct, indirect or imaginary: Bartezzaghi invents one with David Foster Wallace), Levi the linguist and semiologist is always fascinated by the ways we can give meaning to the meaningless, express the inexpressible, scale the impassable.