The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table

Book - 1996
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Largely a memoir of the years before and after Primo Levi's transportation from his native Italy to Auschwitz as an anti-Fascist partisan and a Jew, this book recounts, in clear, beautiful prose, the story of the Piemontese 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. 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. It 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.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.
ISBN: 9780679444633
Branch Call Number: 854 LEVI 1996
Characteristics: xxv, 241 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Rosenthal, Raymond 1915-1995

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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.

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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