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Goldsmiths - University of London

Rattling the Cage of Meaning: Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table, the Two Cultures, and the Ethical Duty of the Writer

Boldrini, Lucia. 2011. Rattling the Cage of Meaning: Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table, the Two Cultures, and the Ethical Duty of the Writer. In: Cedric Barfoot and Valeria Tinkler Villani, eds. Restoring the Mystery of the Rainbow: Literature’s Refraction of Science. 47 Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 187-206. ISBN 978-90-420-3325-2 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This essay considers Levi's The Periodic Table in relation to two debates - that on 'The Two Cultures', as C. P. Snow's 1959 Rede lecture famously defined it, and that sparked by Sartre's position in What is Literature? on the role of the writer in post-war society, to which Adorno's responded, in 1962, with his essay on 'Commitment'. The essay concludes that despite Levi’s apparent demand for clarity, based on positions that echo those of Sartre within the debate on 'commitment' and those of Snow within the debate on the 'two cultures', his writing has much more complex and darker overtones, and continues to 'rattle', as Adorno would say, the 'cage' of a meaning that refuses to be simple.

Item Type: Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature
Research Office > REF2014

Dates:

DateEvent
2011Published

Item ID:

6654

Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2012 10:10

Last Modified:

23 Jun 2017 15:14

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/6654
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