Rome Book Club - Week 3 - The Reawakening


Location: Online - Rome Global Gateway

Week 3 of the latest Rome Book Club "Primo Levi’s The Truce: a guide to returning to life” led by Prof. Barry McCrea.

One of the meanings contained in the title of the novel is the idea of suspension of moral judgement. This is not to say that The Truce is a novel of forgiveness: rather these questions of guilt, retribution, expiation and so on are put temporarily to one side to allow other ideas and feelings to flourish. The first task after an interruption to life, the novel suggests, is a form of accounting. Basic facts must be established and accounted for. The next task is re-enchantment: fitting these facts, without denying or trying to mitigate their brutality, into a world that is fit for living in.

The world after the War must be reinvented, from the ground up. Narration is the key to this process. Throughout the novel, Levi is interested in the way external material realities and experiences take on internal, symbolic forms: literal hunger and psychological hunger, bartering and empathic exchange, bodily and spiritual forms of death. The novel is filled with small, apparently insignificant or humorous narratives, which play out, in miniature, the work of restoration and rebuilding which is required of survivors.

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