Primo Levi, Bruno Piazza, Holocaust, Shoah, Auschwitz, Italian literature, literature


To focus on the literature of the Shoah more than 50 years later and 7,000 miles away inevitably creates some sense of dissociation due to both historical and geographic distance. While on the one hand, an analysis of the literature of the genocide might grant further insights through a retrospective look, on the other, however, this distance of time and space risks leading to an oversimplification of the Shoah, in the sense that the plight of the Jews, their individual stories and the overwhelming sense of emptiness caused by the depletion of the intellectual Jewish cultural communities in Europe might be lost within the maze of some collective post-psychological and philosophical/historical studies which claim to give answers to the genocide. In fact, ultimately, Auschwitz represents the undefinable tragic event in history, and no conclusive explanation will ever be possible, for the concentration camp and its crematoria defeat any logical relations of cause and effect. As scholars, it is, therefore, critically important not to lose perspective on the individual human tragedies of the Shoah and its aftermath when dealing with its literature. The study of the Holocaust must preserve the real personal human face.

Original Publication Citation

"Primo Levi and Bruno Piazza: Auschwitz in Italian Literature," Remembrance, Repentance, Reconciliation. Studies in the Shoah, XX!, ed. Douglas Tobler (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1998): 127-135.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



University Press of America






French and Italian

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor