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The Last Interview: Conversations with Giovanni Tesio



The Last Interview: Conversations with Giovanni Tesio

Primo Levi, Judith Woolf (Translator)

ISBN: 978-1-509-51958-3 July 2018 Polity 160 Pages



At the start of 1987, Primo Levi took part in a remarkable series of conversations about his early life with a friend and fellow writer, Giovanni Tesio. This book is the result of those meetings, originally intended to be the basis for an authorized biography and published here in English for the first time.

In a densely packed dialogue, Levi responds to Tesio’s tactful and never too insistent questions with a watchful readiness and candour, breaking through the reserve of his public persona to allow a more intimate self to emerge. Following the thread of memory, he lucidly discusses his family, his childhood, his education during the Fascist period, his adolescent friendships, his reading, his shyness and his passion for mountaineering, and recounts his wartime experience as a partisan and the terrible price it exacted from him and his comrades. Though we glimpse his later life as a writer, the story breaks off just before his deportation to Auschwitz owing to his sudden death.

In The Last Interview, Levi the man, the witness, the chemist and the writer all unite to offer us a story which is also a window onto history. These conversations shed new light on Levi’s life and will appeal to the many readers of this most eloquent witness to the horrors of the Holocaust.
  • Introduction: Judith Woolf
  • I knew Primo Levi: Giovanni Tesio
  • Acknowledgements
  • Monday, 17 January
  • Monday, 26 January
  • Sunday, 8 February
"With the moral stamina and intellectual poise of a 20th-century titan, this slightly built, dutiful, unassuming chemist set out systematically to remember the German hell on earth, steadfastly to think it through, and then to render it comprehensible in lucid, unpretentious prose."
Philip Roth

"Whether as witness or imaginative artist, Levi stands high among the truly essential European writers of the past century."
Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

"The triumph of human identity and worth over the pathology of human destruction glows virtually everywhere in Levi's writing. … Time and time again we are moved by his narratives of how men refuse erasure."
Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist