Thursday, August 16, 2012


Indispensable Possessions

Primo Levi (1919-1987), The Periodic Table, tr. Raymond Rosenthal (New York: Schocken Books, 1984), p. 111:
The very next day I quit the mine and moved to Milan with the few things I felt were indispensable: my bike, Rabelais, the Macaronaeae, Moby Dick translated by Pavese, a few other books, my pickax, climbing rope, logarithmic ruler, and recorder.

L’indomani stesso mi licenziai dalle Cave, e mi trasferii a Milano con le poche cose che sentivo indispensabili: la bicicletta, Rabelais, le Macaroneae, Moby Dick tradotto da Pavese ed altri pochi libri, la piccozza, la corda da roccia, il regolo logaritmico e un flauto dolce.
I think that a "logarithmic ruler" is what we more commonly call a "slide rule" in English. "The Macaronaeae" also requires a gloss, at least for me. Apparently this refers to the macaronic verse of Rabelais' contemporary Teofilo Folengo (1491-1544), also known by his pseudonym Merlinus Coccaius (or Merlino Coccajo or Merlin Cocai).

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