Primo Levi

The Periodic Table

Each of the 21 chapters has the name of a chemical element and comprises a story linked to that element (no chemical knowledge is required). Mostly the chapters are autobiographical, although some are episodes from other peoples lives, and a few are short stories which Levi has written. We see Levi's early life followed by a struggle to find employment in Fascist Italy. There is just one chapter of his time in Auschwitz - Levi has written about this in other books. After the war he struggles with self-employed, but finds he is better suited to working in large companies. We get a unique insight into the mind of a scientist turned author, the chapters are very well written, and I think all readers will find this book highly enjoyable

My favourite chapter is 'Chromium' in which a group of colleagues are discussing unnecessary ingerdients in chemical procedures. One mentions an anti-rust paint to which ammonium chloride is added, of which Levi can say 'is completely useless as I can state from firsthand experience because it was I who introduced it to the formula'. Thus we are led into the problem which he had to solve, told in Levi's unique style - the struggle with 'the hyle, stupid matter, slothfully hostile' - we also hear about how falling in love affected his attitude to this work.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 240 pages  
ISBN: 0349121982
Salesrank: 7285978
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 1988 Abacus Uk
Marketplace:New from $14.95:Used from $1.40
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 240 pages  
ISBN: 0349121982
Salesrank: 421432
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 1995 Abacus
Marketplace:New from £5.99:Used from £0.01
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Paperback
ISBN: 0349121982
Salesrank: 1630552
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 1988 PENGUIN
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 36.62:Used from CDN$ 1.73
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Product Description

The Periodic Table is largely a memoir of the years before and after Primo Levi’s transportation from his native Italy to Auschwitz as an anti-Facist partisan and a Jew.

 

It recounts, in clear, precise, unfailingly beautiful prose, the story of the Piedmontese Jewish community from which Levi came, of his years as a student and young chemist at the inception of the Second World War, and of his investigations into the nature of the material world. As such, it provides crucial links and backgrounds, both personal and intellectual, in the tremendous project of remembrance that is Levi’s gift to posterity. But far from being a prologue to his experience of the Holocaust, Levi’s masterpiece represents his most impassioned response to the events that engulfed him.

 

The Periodic Table celebrates the pleasures of love and friendship and the search for meaning, and stands as a monument to those things in us that are capable of resisting and enduring in the face of tyranny.