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Scientia Poetica

Jahrbuch für Geschichte der Literatur und Wissenschaften / Yearbook for the History of Literature, Humanities and Sciences

Ed. by Albrecht, Andrea / Danneberg, Lutz / Regn, Gerhard / Schmidt-Biggemann, Wilhelm / Vollhardt, Friedrich

Editorial Board: Mahlmann, Barbara / Epple, Moritz / Fick, Monika / Grafton, Anthony Thomas / Jaumann, Herbert / Klippel, Diethelm / Kühlmann, Wilhelm / Müller, Jan-Dirk / Nisbet, Hugh Barr / Proß, Wolfgang / Schönert, Jörg / Strohschneider, Peter

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History, Memory and Communication

First Reflections on Primo Levi’s Idea of Poetry

Mario Marino
Published Online: 2014-12-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/scipo-2014-0109


The paper reconstructs Primo Levi’s idea of poetry and the significance of poetry for his life and literary experience through a systematic analysis of Levi’s statements on poetry and poetical writing (sourced from interviews, public interventions and literary and theoretical texts such as the foreword to Ad ora incerta, Dello scrivere oscuro, La ricerca delle radici, Poesia e computer) as well as of the international (Italian, French and Anglo-American) debate on his work. Whilst developing a comparison of Levi’s idea of poetry with that of Italian neo-idealism (Croce) and pre-romantic thinkers (Herder, Hamann), the paper focuses on Levi’s assertions about the precedence of poetry over prose, the coexistence of rational and irrational, the ideas of clarity and communication, memory and history, and the relationship between poetry and crisis. Furthermore, it develops a critical approach to spiritualistic and psychoanalytical interpretations (De Marco, Tesio, and Mattioda). Levi’s definition of the moment of poetry as an »uncertain hour« (Coleridge) is finally explained as both the hour released from the predeterminations of logical thought and the hour of crisis.

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Published Online: 2014-12-16

Published in Print: 2014-12-01

Citation Information: Scientia Poetica, Volume 18, Issue 1, Pages 227–259, ISSN (Online) 1868-9418, ISSN (Print) 1431-5041, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/scipo-2014-0109.

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