Is there a degree of suffering and degradation beyond which a man or a woman ceases to be a human being? A point beyond which our spirit dies and only pure physiology survives? And to what extent, if any, may poetry and literary culture be capable of preserving the integrity of our humanity? These are some of the questions, posed with reference to the descriptions of extreme suffering in Dante’s Inferno and Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man, in the public lecture by Lino Pertile (Harvard), Dante at Auschwitz: the Role of Poetry in our World, to be delivered at the Public Lecture Theatre, Old Arts Building, The University of Melbourne, on Thursday 22 Sept 2016, 6.oo-7.oopm (registration here).
Professor Lino Pertile is Harvard College Professor and Carl A. Pescosolido Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures. Professor Pertile is a renowned scholar on Italian literature, with a particular focus on the medieval and Renaissance periods. He has also been Director of the Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (2010-15). His extensive list of publications include Dante in Context (CUP, 2015), The Cambridge History of Italian Literature (CUP, 1996 and 1999), and The New Italian Novel (Edinburgh University Press, 1993).