It goes without saying that books and articles about the Holocaust need to be treated very carefully and with tremendous respect. IF THIS IS A MAN by Primo Levi is like this. This literary experience opens in a truly remarkable manner. It is at once incredibly moving, and immediately horrifying. You canÃ¢(tm)t read more than a handful of pages (or paragraphs, or lines of text even) without feeling overwhelmed and helpless and offended in the most extreme way possible. Conversely, phrases of note are come across early in the book, and the reader may well find themselves thinking how well that sentence was penned and how nicely it sits in the readerÃ¢(tm)s mind. And in the next heartbeat, you may well admonish yourself for finding joy and discovering anything of note or pleasure in the words that describe such a terrible, terrible place.
Chapter one is given the title, Ã¢(tm)THE JOURNEYÃ¢(tm) and chapter two is called, Ã¢(tm)ON THE BOTTOMÃ¢(tm). The opening salvo leaves the reader with a feeling of impending doom (bordering on terror) but chapter two has a much greater emotional impact. Chapter three shows that some prisoners held on to hope longer than others; indeed, the bookÃ¢(tm)s narrator appears to have lost all hope by the start of chapter four. He meets up with a friend from BEFORE who blesses the reader with this delightful quote (taken from location 635 of the kindle version) in answer to the question of why waste time and effort keeping yourself clean with soap when all signs of personal and soulful hygiene are lost within a few seconds of stepping beyond the washroom?
Ã¢ae... We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength for it is the last Ã¢" the power to refuse our consent...Ã¢
ITIAM is an extraordinary reading experience; and it is a hideous reading experience. You donÃ¢(tm)t really know what to think, and you donÃ¢(tm)t really know where to look. Truth has the peculiar habit of sneaking up on you and staring you right in the face. All you can do is stare back.
April 25, 2015 and the book is finished. As I approach its finale, and as Levi returns home, I come across quotes of text that approach literary highlights and significant moments of the tome itself. I won't quote them here, but I have no doubt you will discover them yourself. For example look at kindle locations 5492 to 5495, and also 5506.
What a book. What an experience. What a nightmare.