Reading and Translating Primo Levi: Poem and Enunciation

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Abstract

This essay puts forward a new methodological approach to reading and translating Primo Levi’s literary testimony, starting from the connection between poetry and prose in Se questo è un uomo. In particular, the essay combines the poetics of translation elaborated by Henri Meschonnic with the linguistics of enunciation, as developed by Émile Benveniste and others, to define and analyse the ‘poem of extermination’ which underlies Levi’s prose work. By challenging the relative critical biases that posit the transparency of prose and the untranslatability of poetry, the essay reconsiders a wider perspective of textual connections, from Babel to the ‘black hole of Auschwitz’, and finally suggests a new understanding of Dante’s ‘sacred poem’ in the literary space created by the ethical commitment to bear witness.
Translated title of the contributionReading and Translating Primo Levi: Poem and Enunciation
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)452-476
Number of pages25
JournalForum Italicum
Volume48
Issue number3
Early online date8 Aug 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014

Keywords

  • Dante, enunciazione, Levi, poema, traduzione

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