CULTURE Terracini Archive in Turin, a Trove of Primo Levi’s papers

primo levi archivio terraciniBy Alice Fubini*

A small exhibition of original unpublished documents stored in many files and collections was the backdrop to a conference in Turin last week – a dialogue between Chiara Pilocane, director of Terracini Archive, and Cristina Zuccaro, responsible for the archive and library at Primo Levi Studies Centre. Alternating with some passages from Andrea Sola’s works, their speeches were introduced by Terracini Archive’s President Bianca Gardella Tedeschi.

The event was part of the initiatives for Primo Levi’s birth centenary, supported by the International Primo Levi Studies Centre and the National Committee for the Celebrations of the Centenary, established on March 25 and presided by Dario Disegni, President of the National Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah and of the Jewish Community of Turin.

The activity was organised with the support of Piedmont Region and the Jewish Foundation “Marchese Cav. Guglielmo De Levy”.

“The exhibition includes miscellaneous documents, reflecting Primo Levi’s various and multifaceted nature and activity”, comments director Chiara Pilocane. The heterogeneous unpublished papers were mainly taken from Silvio Ortona’s collection to integrate the scattered information coming from other sources.

The dialogue was organised around three subjects.

The first one concerned the events of Monte Disgrazia, that were retraced with different sources – some of Levi’s works and photographs from Ortona’s collection.

The second one revolves around Levi as an “early witness” of the Shoah, focusing on some letters of August 1945.

Lastly, his activity as a witness, which he referred to as his “third job” in the 1970s, was also discussed, along with his interview edited by Marco Pennaccini, that Pilocane describes as “a rework of his literary activity from the perspective of the Years of Lead”.

The Archive, located inside the buildings of the Jewish community of Turin, becomes with this event one of the protagonists of Archivissima festival: four days of meetings, events and influences focused on documents and papers connecting past and future. The two of them blended together in the format “La notte degli archivi” (Archives’ night) in Turin, a unique kermesse whose theme this year is the process of overcoming barriers.

*Translated by Claudia Azzalini, student at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of Trieste University and intern at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities.