Wednesday, 6 February 2008

If not now, when?

Title: If not now, when?

Author: Primo Levi

Number of pages: 281

Started: 1 February 2008

Finished: 6 February 2008

Opening words:

"In my village there weren't many clocks. One on the church steeple, but it had stopped years and years ago, maybe during the Revolution. I never saw it working, and my father said he hadn't either. Not even the bell ringer had a clock."

"So how was he able to ring the bells at the right time?"

"He would listen to the time on the radio, and he would judge by the sun and the moon. For that matter, he didn't ring every hour, only the important ones. Two years before the war began, the bell rope broke. It snapped near the top; the stairs were rotten; the bell ringer was an old man, and he was afraid to climb up there and put in a new rope. So after that he announced the time be shooting a hunting rifle into the air; one shot, or two or three or four. That went on till the Germans came. They took his gun away from him, and the village was left without any time."

Plot summary:

If Not Now, When? is the English title of the Italian novelist Primo Levi's 1982 novel, Se non ora, quando?.

It recounts the fortunes of a group of Jewish Soviet partisans in Nazi-occupied Russia and Poland during World War II. The group struggle to survive and continue their fight against the Germans. The partisan band reaches Poland and then German territory before the surviving members are officially received in territory held by the Western allies as Displaced Persons. Finally, they succeed in reaching Italy, on their way to Palestine, to take part in the construction of the Jewish national home there.

Synopsis taken from Wikipedia.

What I thought:

I quite liked this book, but probably should have found it more profound than I did. In some ways I just found it hard to relate to, but at points it was moving and showed some of the suffering of Jews during the war.

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