The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table

Book - 1984
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The Italian author's most original work mixes memoir, history, fictional recreation, and poetic myth in a series of prose pieces, each correlated with an element of Mendeleevs periodic table, and presenting a snapshot of his own pre- and post- World War 2 experience as seen through the double lens of science and humanistic culture, while memorializing the Piedmontese Jewish community from which he came.
Publisher: New York : Schocken Books, 1984
ISBN: 9780805239294
0805239294
9780805210415
0805210415
Branch Call Number: 858.91407 L5782p 1984
Characteristics: 233 p. ;c21 cm
Additional Contributors: Rosenthal, Raymond - Translator
Alternative Title: Sistema periodico

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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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