When Paura della libertà was first published in Italy in 1946, critics were puzzled: was this the same Carlo Levi whose extraordinary Cristo si è fermato a Eboli had appeared the previous year? With its concrete imagery and compassionate ethnography, that earlier book had won over not only the Italian literary establishment and its various political currents, but the larger public as well. Paura della libertà seemed to have been written by an entirely different author. And yet, there is a clear genealogy between the two; indeed, the later essay must be recognized as the interpretive key to understanding Levi’s entire oeuvre.1 It was not until the second edition was published in 1964, that Italo Calvino understood, before other critics, that «Levi […] è il testimone della presenza d’un altro tempo all’interno del nostro tempo, è l’ambasciatore d’un altro mondo all’interno del nostro mondo»…
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