The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table

4.19 (6,795 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Introduction by  , Translated by 

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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 more

Product details

  • Hardback | 242 pages
  • 134 x 208 x 22mm | 680.4g
  • Everyman
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1857152182
  • 9781857152180
  • 102,877

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 Aschersonshow more

Review Text

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)show more
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