Levi, Eugenio

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LEVI, EUGENIO (1876–1966), Italian literary critic and essayist. Born in Milan, Levi taught languages and literature for many years in state schools. When he was forced to leave them as a result of Mussolini's antisemitic laws, he moved to the Milan Jewish high school, where he exerted a strong influence on his pupils. Until 1938 he taught Arabic at various colleges, including the Philological Institute and the Colonial High School. After World War ii he also taught at the Sally Mayer College of Semitic Studies (1951–60), and was from 1960 honorary dean of Milan's Jewish schools.

His vast cultural curiosity and breadth of knowledge led Levi to the writing of essays – a literary genre in which he excelled. Some of his best studies of the theater and of Italian literature were published in the review Il Convegno (1919–38), which he edited and through which he introduced Italian readers to great contemporary writers of Europe and the United States, such as Joyce, Kafka, Hemingway, and Lorca. He did a great deal of research on the theater, some of which resulted in the prizewinning study Il Comico di Carattere da Teofrasto a Pirandello (1959). Other notable works include translations into Italian of Molière's Tartuffe (1949), and the History of World Literature by Gustav *Karpeles (1906); and the study Il lettore inquieto (1964). Levi dealt with Jewish themes in two essays originally published in the Rassegna Mensile d'Israel: "Zangwill e l'Ebraismo" (1955) and "Ricordo di Sabatino Lopez" (1968), and in "Italo Svevo e l'anima ebraica" (Scritti…Sally Mayer, 1956).


L'Espresso (April 12, 1959), 31; Nuovo corriere della sera (April 3, 1959); rmi, 32 (1966), 427. add. bibliography: G. Lopez, "Eugenio Levi; critico e moralista," in: Scritti in memoria di Umberto Nahon (1978), 117–65.

[Giorgio Romano]