The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table

Book - 1995?
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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 the story of the Piedmontese Jewish community from which Levi came, of his years as a student and young chemist at the inception of World War II, and of his investigations into the nature of the material world.
Publisher: New York : Schocken Books, [1995?], c1984
ISBN: 9780805210415
0805210415
Branch Call Number: 854.9 L664p 1995
Characteristics: 233 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Rosenthal, Raymond

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From Library Staff

Join the discussion on November 20, 2016. In this extraordinary work, each of the 21 chapters takes its title and starting point from one of the elements in the periodic table. Mingling fact and fiction, history and anecdote, Levi used his training as a chemist and his experiences as a prisoner i... Read More »


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marydave
Mar 31, 2016

Amazing look into the heart and mind of a truly great human being. Why did I wait 20 years to read this? Maybe I thought it would be too heavily scientific; if so, I was wrong ....

It's instructive to compare the first chapter, Argon, with the last, Carbon. The first element is totally isolated, the last highly interactive, especially with itself. The book is a movement from isolation to engagement and wide activity. It ends with Primo's disappearance into the "all" of the world and its scientific laws.

An interesting all consuming mix of chemistry & life. An insight into how a scientist views life.

l
lukasevansherman
Jan 25, 2014

"Fascism had had its effect on us, as on almost all Italians, alienating us and making us superficial, passive, and cynical."
Italian writer and chemist Primo Levi is probably best known for his memoirs about his time in Auschwitz ("The Drowned and the Saved," "Survival in Auschwitz") and this too is autobiographical, but is more focused on his chemistry work. Each piece is named after an element (hence the title) such as Argon or Gold. Sadly, Levi committed suicide in 1987.

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