The Gray Bond. Notes on life, power and evil in Primo Levi

When and Where

Thursday, February 29, 2024 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Room 404, 4th floor
Carr Hall
100 St. Joseph Street, Toronto


Simona Forti


The lecture will focus on Primo Levi's two best-known works, If This is a Man (1947) and The Drowned and the Saved (1986).  Simona Forti will not dwell on the themes of memory and testimony to which they seem to be dedicated. Instead, she will argue that they contain a sober, but extraordinarily effective, conception of power: of Nazi power, certainly, but also of power in general. Through a kind of philosophical engagement with Levi's account of the Lager, the lecture will show that Levi is the daring author of a crude 'microphysics of power'; he is the analyst who probes - without pity and without ideological or doctrinal bias - the dynamics of human relations always poised between the desire for life and the struggle for recognition.

Simona Forti is a Professor of Political Philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa (Italy), and currently visiting professor at the New School for Social Research in New York. She is the author of several publications on Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, biopolitics, totalitarianism, relations between evil and power, including The New Demons. Rethinking evil and power today (Stanford UP, 2015) and Totalitarianism: a Borderline Idea in Political Philosophy (Stanford UP, 2024).

To attend this lecture in person, please complete the online registration.

This lecture will be livestreamed on the Department's YouTube channel.

All times stated in Eastern time.

Contact Information


Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies - University of Toronto


100 St. Joseph Street, Toronto