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Bad dreams in short story form: Primo Levi and Science Fiction


Bad dreams in short story form: Primo Levi and Science Fiction

In this new appointment with the series "Scienza o Fantascienza?", Francesco Cassata will talk about Primo Levi, the famous Italian writer and Holocaust survivor, and his little known relationship with science fiction.

"Storie naturali", the first collection of Primo Levi’s science fiction stories, was published in September 1966, under the pen name Damiano Malabaila, wrapped in a paper band by the Einaudi publishing house proposing an attractive and engaging question: «Science Fiction?».

Much has been written about the origin of that pen name, but perhaps it is necessary to pause and reflect on the meaning and ambiguity of that question – reiterated not by chance in the title of this Lecture. Einaudi’s paper band in fact alluded to a series of questions that still have not been fully answered: Why did Levi chose science fiction? In which social and cultural context did he write these stories? How do these writings of Levi relate to science fiction as a genre? And how do his science fiction story fit into the rest of his work?

Francesco Cassata is Full Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Genoa. He has published on the history of eugenics and scientific racism in Italy, on the history of Lysenkoism in Italy, on the Italian geneticist Adriano Buzzati-Traverso and the International Laboratory of Genetics and Biophysics in Naples (1962-69). He is member of the History of Race and Eugenics Research Group (Oxford Brookes) and of the International Working Group on Lysenkoism (CUNY, New York).


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Map Istituto Italiano Di Cultura - Dublino, 11 Fitzwilliam Square East, Dublin, Ireland Dublin 2, Dublin, Ireland
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Istituto Italiano Di Cultura - Dublino