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Primo Levi

Date de naissance: 31. juillet 1919
Date de décès: 11. avril 1987

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Primo Levi, né le 31 juillet 1919 à Turin et mort le 11 avril 1987 à Turin, est un docteur en chimie italien rendu célèbre par son livre Si c'est un homme qui relate son expérience dans le camp de concentration et d'extermination d'Auschwitz, où il fut emprisonné à Monowitz au cours de l'année 1944.

Juif italien de naissance, chimiste de profession et de vocation, il découvre tardivement une carrière d'écrivain orientée par cette expérience de survivant de la Shoah, afin de montrer, retranscrire, transmettre, expliciter. Il est l'auteur d'histoires courtes, de poèmes et de romans.

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Citations Primo Levi

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„Nothing can be said: nothing sure, nothing probable, nothing honest.“

— Primo Levi
Context: Nothing can be said: nothing sure, nothing probable, nothing honest. Better to err through omission than through commission: better to refrain from steering the fate of others, since it is already so difficult to navigate one's own.

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„Translation is difficult work because the barriers between languages are higher than is generally thought … knowing how to avoid the traps is not enough to make a good translator.“

— Primo Levi
Context: Translation is difficult work because the barriers between languages are higher than is generally thought … knowing how to avoid the traps is not enough to make a good translator. The task is more arduous; it is a matter of transferring from one language to another the expressive force of the text, and this is a superhuman task, so much so that some celebrated translations (for example that of the Odyssey into Latin and the Bible into German) have marked transformations in the history of our civilisation. Nonetheless, since writing results from a profound interaction between the creative talent of the writer and the language in which he expresses himself, to each translation is coupled an inevitable loss, comparable to the loss of changing money. This diminution varies in degree, great or small according to the ability of the translator and the nature of the original text. As a rule it is minimal for technical or scientific texts (but in this case the translator, in addition to knowing the two languages, needs to understand what he is translating; possess, that is to say, a third competence). It is maximal for poetry... As quoted in "Primo Levi and Translation" http://www.leeds.ac.uk/bsis/98/98pltrn.htm by David Mendel http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20070320/ai_n18738601/print, in Bulletin of the Society for Italian Studies (1998)

„The trade of chemist (fortified, in my case, by the experience of Auschwitz), teaches you to overcome, indeed to ignore, certain revulsions that are neither necessary or congenital: matter is matter, neither noble nor vile, infinitely transformable, and its proximate origin is of no importance whatsoever.“

— Primo Levi
Context: The trade of chemist (fortified, in my case, by the experience of Auschwitz), teaches you to overcome, indeed to ignore, certain revulsions that are neither necessary or congenital: matter is matter, neither noble nor vile, infinitely transformable, and its proximate origin is of no importance whatsoever. Nitrogen is nitrogen, it passes miraculously from the air into plants, from these into animals, and from animals into us; when its function in our body is exhausted, we eliminate it, but it still remains nitrogen, aseptic, innocent. "Nitrogen"

„Intolerance is inclined to censor, and censorship promotes ignorance of the arguments of others and thus intolerance itself: a rigid, vicious circle that is hard to break.“

— Primo Levi
Context: In countries and epochs in which communication is impeded, soon all other liberties wither; discussion dies by inanition, ignorance of the opinion of others becomes rampant, imposed opinions triumph. The well-known example of this is the crazy genetics preached in the USSR by Lysenko, which in the absence of discussion (his opponents were exiled to Siberia) compromised the harvests for twenty years. Intolerance is inclined to censor, and censorship promotes ignorance of the arguments of others and thus intolerance itself: a rigid, vicious circle that is hard to break.

„In countries and epochs in which communication is impeded, soon all other liberties wither; discussion dies by inanition, ignorance of the opinion of others becomes rampant, imposed opinions triumph.“

— Primo Levi
Context: In countries and epochs in which communication is impeded, soon all other liberties wither; discussion dies by inanition, ignorance of the opinion of others becomes rampant, imposed opinions triumph. The well-known example of this is the crazy genetics preached in the USSR by Lysenko, which in the absence of discussion (his opponents were exiled to Siberia) compromised the harvests for twenty years. Intolerance is inclined to censor, and censorship promotes ignorance of the arguments of others and thus intolerance itself: a rigid, vicious circle that is hard to break.

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