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Metaphor in the Writings of Primo Levi

Briggs, Gemma Louise (2011) Metaphor in the Writings of Primo Levi. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis examines Primo Levi’s use of metaphor. To date, there has been no in-depth study of Levi’s figurative language. Despite the esteem in which Levi is held as a writer, critical studies have often tended to focus on content over form, and on those works in which he presents and examines his Auschwitz experience over his fictional output. This study is directed principally to more overtly linguistic and literary elements of Levi’s work, and spans his whole career as a writer of both testimony and fiction. The thesis is divided into four main parts; the first part provides background on Levi’s use of figurative language and engages with critical theories regarding metaphor. Part II is dedicated to the Holocaust and begins by looking at polemical issues surrounding Holocaust literature, such as the appropriateness of the employment of metaphor within this genre. The discussion then concentrates on how Levi overcomes the ineffability of the Holocaust via the use of metaphor in his testimonial writing and his poetry. In Part III, the themes of science, creation and writing are explored. Levi’s writing transcends the ‘two cultures’ dichotomy, not only bringing together creative writing and writing about science, but also through sustained metaliterary reflections on the process of writing itself, whether fictional or autobiographical, creative or scientific. Part IV draws together the findings of this thesis, showing that metaphor is essential to what Levi is trying to achieve as a writer, who – in all his work, although in varying ways – deals with events which fall outside the range of normal human conceptualising experience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Holocaust literature, Primo Levi, Auschwitz, metaphor.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > Italian (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.550526
Depositing User: Dr Gemma Louise Briggs
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2015 08:07
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:34
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9586

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