Songs Beyond Mankind: Poetry and the Lager from Dante to Primo Levi
Bernardo Lecture Series, No. 18
Examines the preservation of the integrity of humanity through literature in the hells described by Dante in his Inferno and by Primo Levi in Survival in Auschwitz.
"Songs Beyond Mankind: Poetry and the Lager from Dante to Primo Levi" is the eighteenth in a series of publications occasioned by the annual Bernardo Lecture at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) at Binghamton University. This series offers public lectures that have been given by distinguished medieval and Renaissance scholars on topics and figures representative of these two important historical, religious, and intellectual periods.
Professor Pertile's lecture, "Songs Beyond Mankind," asks whether there is a degree of suffering and degradation beyond which a man or woman ceases to be a human being, a point beyond which our soul dies and what survives is pure physiology. And, if yes, to what extent may literature be capable of preserving our humanity in the face of unspeakable pain? These are some of the issues that this lecture addresses by considering two systems of suffering, the hells described by Dante in his Inferno and Primo Levi in Survival in Auschwitz.
Lino Pertile is Carl A. Pescosolido Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University and the director of Villa I Tatti in Florence, Italy. He has published widely on Dante and medieval Italian literature.