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. info
Paperback 234 pages  
ISBN: 0349121982
Salesrank: 11065186
Published: 1994 Abacus Uk
Amazon price $40.24
Marketplace:New from $40.24:Used from $0.72
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Paperback 240 pages  
ISBN: 0349121982
Salesrank: 1281215
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 1995 Abacus
Marketplace:New from £8.47:Used from £0.01
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ISBN: 0349121982
Salesrank: 2582482
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 1988 Abacus Uk
Amazon price CDN$ 51.20
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 51.20:Used from CDN$ 2.65
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Product Description
'A book it is necessary to read' - Saul Bellow. In these haunting reflections, Primo Levi, a chemist by training, takes the elements of the periodic table as his starting point and inspiration. Written with understated eleoquence and shot through with deep humanity, Levi ranges from young love to political savagery in this, one of his most famous works.