Primo Levi

Topics: Primo Levi, Human nature, Humans Pages: 3 (989 words) Published: August 2, 2013
If this is A Man
1. The poem ‘If this Is a Man’ has close links to the novel. It addresses the author’s intension. Hence for shadowing a sense of brutality compared to our daily lives presented in the text. The author is imploring or even threatening the readers to imagine and ‘Inhuman’ state where ‘…Who works in mud…Who fights for a scrap of bread…’ and if we forget its existence, we will be cursed hence doomed. We can see this through the text ‘or may your house fall apart, may illness impede you may your children turn their faces from you`. Primo Levi is emphasizing that if we forget ‘Inhuman’ then our existence as man are not, by far, ‘complete’. Hence we cannot be considered as a ‘whole’ man.

However, the idea of ‘Humanity’ is axiomatically, not a perfect concept. The ‘Subjectivity’ of man, which was brought to us by the ‘Enlightenment Thought’ after Renaissance, affected the western world tremendously. In spite of that, the whole ideology was constructed based on the fact that we know what ‘man’ is. Thus men have to assume that they understand the idea of ‘Humanity’. Primo Levi challenges that. But men do know and understand what ‘Inhumanness’ is; know it so well that can even put it to test. On the other hand men more likely do not know what absolute good are, the standards of it. Men cannot even define human or humanity, because we do not know the true human nature. What we are assured of is that we know ‘Inhuman’ completely. In this sense, man is only living for all the inhuman reasons. In Levi’s eyes, men’s existence is only to witness the inhumanness. That is why Levi as a sufferer of the notorious holocaust is repeatedly demanding through a poem with prayer-like structure for the readers to meditate, with him as what a ‘true man’ is.

2. Different characters in ‘If This Is a Man’ symbolises a different aspect of the human nature. Through these characters, Primo Levi expressed his view on what ‘men’ truly is. The Lakmaker is a great...
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