Primo Levi, fiction and verse

Earlier this week, The Elegant Variation mentioned a new Primo Levi story, “Bear Meat.” Evidently it’s one of 17 works of fiction that appear in the forthcoming A Tranquil Star: Unpublished Stories of Primo Levi and were first published in Italian between 1949 and 1986.

If you’re unfamiliar with Levi, read up at The Modern Word site. I’m especially partial to this poem, although I like to read it at the end of the week — just before release from cubicleville — never at the beginning.


Is anything sadder than a train
That leaves when it’s supposed to,
That has only one voice,
Only one route?
There’s nothing sadder.

Except perhaps a cart horse,
Shut between two shafts
And unable even to look sideways.
Its whole life is walking.

And a man? Isn’t a man sad?
If he lives in solitude a long time,
If he believes time has run its course,
A man is a sad thing too.


At the Kenyon Review, Liz Lopatto notes that Levi’s “The Periodic Table was recently named the best science book of all time. A profile from The Economist is available here.”


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