As an introduction to it, we will read the poem If is this a man written by Primo Levi after the Second World War. Within a few months of liberation from Monowitz, one of the many smaller camps attached to Auschwitz, P. Levi produced his first collection of writtings. This poem was published in 1947. Levi´s text became overwhelmingly successful and was translated into eight languages and adapted for radio and theatre.
If This Is a Man
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud,
Who does not know peace,
Who fights for a scrap of bread,
Who dies because of a yes or a no
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair and without name,
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.
Read this P. Levi´s text and answer the questions in a separate piece of paper.
"At that time (1947) people had other things to get on with: buildings houses, looking for jobs. There was still rationing, cities were in ruins, the Allies were still occupying Italy. People didn´t want to hear (about the camps), they wanted other things, to dance, to party, to bring children into the world. A book like mine and many others that came after were almost like a discourtesy, like spoiling a party."
1 Why does the author use the expresion "like spoiling a party"? Review the information that we have read in class to answer this question.
2 Why didnt people want to hear about the camps? Was Levi right to dwell on the past?