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Connolly, A. (2020). Goldstein, Ann (ed.). The Complete Works of Primo Levi. London & New York: Liveright/Penguin Classics. 2015. Pp. 3008. Hbk. £120.. J. Anal. Psychol., 65(1):243-247.

(2020). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 65(1):243-247

Goldstein, Ann (ed.). The Complete Works of Primo Levi. London & New York: Liveright/Penguin Classics. 2015. Pp. 3008. Hbk. £120.

Review by:
Angela Connolly

Ponder that this happened

I consign these words to you

Carve them into your hearts

Shema 1946

With the growing popularity of his first two works, If This is a Man and The Truce, Primo Levi came to be recognized as one of the most influential, reflective and balanced writers on the Holocaust or Shoah. It was only with the publication of The Periodic Table and The Wrench that it became clear however that Levi was also one of the major intellectual voices of the 20th century. We only have to look at the complexity and depth of his literary productions, which are now finally available in the English edition of his complete works, to become aware of his importance.

Levi's stories and essays are highly relevant to depth psychology not only because they give us an unsurpassed description of the devastating psychological effects of extreme trauma, but even more importantly, because Levi has much to teach us about the kind of ethical attitude we need to develop to be relevant in today's world. As Robert Gordon notes in Sfacciata Fortuna: Luck and the Holocaust:

With the passage of time, it is becoming ever clearer that Levi will stand as one of the cardinal figures in testimony and in the literary and intellectual history of the twentieth century, not only because of the remarkable power of his written work, but because of his embodiment (accidental we might say) and capacity to inhabit and express a certain crucial conjunction of cultures - literary and scientific, traditional and modern - close to the centre of gravity of the European, modern, Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment mind.

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