The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table

Hardback

By (author) Primo Levi, Introduction by Neal Ascherson, Translated by Raymond Rosenthal

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  • Publisher: EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY
  • Format: Hardback | 242 pages
  • Dimensions: 134mm x 208mm x 22mm | 680g
  • Publication date: 21 September 1995
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1857152182
  • ISBN 13: 9781857152180
  • Sales rank: 88,679

Product description

This is an extraordinary kind of autobiography in which each of the 21 chapters takes its title and its starting-point from one of the elements in the periodic table. Mingling fact and fiction, science and personal record, history and anecdote, Levi uses his training as an industrial chemist and the terrible years he spent as a prisoner in Auschwitz to illuminate the human condition. Yet this exquisitely lucid text is also humourous and even witty in a way possible only to one who has looked into the abyss.

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Review quote

"I immersed myself in "The Periodic Table" gladly and gratefully. There is nothing superfluous here, everything this book contains is essential. It is wonderful pure, and beautifully translated...I was deeply impressed." -Saul Bellow "The best introduction to the psychological world of one of the most important and gifted writers of our time."-Italo Calvino "A work of healing, of tranquil, even buoyant imagination." -"The New York Times Book Review" "Brilliant, grave and oddly sunny; certainly a masterpiece." -"Los Angeles Times" "Every chapter is full of surprises, insights, high humor, and language that often rises to poetry." -"The New Yorker" "One of the most important Italian writers." -Umberto Eco With a new Introduction by Neal Ascherson

Editorial reviews

Published in Italian in 1975, first published in English in 1984, this brilliant volume of personal, social and political autobiography consists of 21 chapters, each named after a chemical element. Primo Levi (1919-87) intersperses scenes from his life with essays, fables and dream-like sequences. The Periodic Table conforms to the plan of a born writer who was also born more human than most beings are. As an industrial chemist in Fascist Italy, Levi joined a Partisan group. After his capture by Nazi militia, he was sent to work at a chemical plant in Auschwitz and survived. That a man can emerge from Auschwitz and then analyse the phenomenon with art and wisdom is wonderful. But after that, if he can still find it in himself to write about other things - love, science, and the 'nobility of man' - as Levi does here, it's genius. (Kirkus UK)