A new Estonian translation of ‘If This Is a Man’ by Primo Levi was recently published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Turin-born writer. In addition to the commemoration, the translation was necessary because the preceding edition, dating back to 20 years ago, is no longer available in the bookshops. Thanks to the action promoted by the Italian Embassy in Tallinn and the International Centre of Studies on Primo Levi, the principal local publisher Varrak and Einaudi entered into an agreement to publish it.
The translation is by Maria Kaplinski, the daughter of the greatest living Estonian poet Ian Kaplinski, who nurtures a special tie with Italy. His baptism godfather was Indro Montanelli who was a university colleague of his father Tartu, Professor Jerzy Kaplinski, who was later killed in the Katyn massacre.
The publication in Estonia of ‘If This Is a Man’ ('Kas see on inimene' in Estonian) will be presented at the Tallinn Literature Festival that is scheduled for the end of May has a special importance that goes beyond promoting one of the masterpieces of 20th century Italian literature. In these last few years, the memory of the crimes committed during the Nazi occupation and in the tragedy of the holocaust is fading, especially among the younger generations, also in the light of the shrinking Jewish community in Estonia compared to other Baltic countries. This is the reason why the Embassy intends to distribute the book to several secondary schools in the Country.