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The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
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The Periodic Table (1975)

by Primo Levi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,908472,831 (4.16)134
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English (41)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Fantastic book. I toyed with giving this book four stars because several chapters veered away from the first person tone of the Primo Levi narrator and into discomforting make-believe; and because the final chapter, "Carbon," was barely comprehensible--on the heels of the spectacular chapter "Iron." All told, the lucid writing, insights, character portraits, and chemistry lesson(!)--which, to my surprise, was enlightening ( I didn't like it as a subiect in high school)--were too good to give The Periodic Table any less than five stars. ( )
  copyedit52 | Aug 8, 2018 |
This was an intriguing book and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in. It ended up being well-written (more of a high literature formal style of writing) and very interesting. It took some concentration to read but I ended up liking it. My only complaint is that the story wanders quite a bit.

I listened to this on audiobook and Jason did a perfect job in reading it. He sounded exactly like I though Levi would sound and did a great job with all the different languages and accents in here. I would definitely recommend listening to this on audiobook if you listen to audiobooks.

This book is a collection stories with each one being named after a chemical element. Some how the element name ties into the story named after it. The stories jump between renditions of Levi’s life and stories that he has written throughout his life. Because of that, things jump around a bit and it can be a bit hard to remember if you are reading about Levi’s life or if you are in the middle of a story that he created about fictional characters.

My other complaint is that the first 40 minutes were really a drag; in this portion of the story Levi introduced a whole bunch of Jewish terminology and characters that have nothing to do with anything. It was awful to get through but I am glad I stuck with it because the rest of the book was very good.

Levi writes in a very intelligent way and has a humorous tone. He weaves his experience as a chemist into the events of his lifetime and it ends up being an intriguing look at both science and life of that era. I really enjoyed it and it brought back excellent memories of my college chemistry work. I could also easily relate to some of his later product troubleshooting stories.

Overall this was an intriguing, entertaining, and accessible memoire on science in the WWII era and one man’s journey through that time. I would recommend to those interested in the 1940’s and chemistry and how the two collided during that time. ( )
  krau0098 | Jul 28, 2018 |
Not a science book, not at all. The elements are coathangers for Levi's literary themes. Having been a chemist makes this easier for him than the rest of us, but the literature he comes up with goes way beyond science. There is nothing dry or abstract about his memoirs or stories. Essential reading ... ( )
  comsat38 | May 27, 2018 |
Is this my new favourite author? I think so. This book sat looking pretty on my shelf for a number of years- what a mistake that was! In saying that though, now was the right time for me and this book to come together. I have recently read [If This is a Man and the Truce], and my reading of the Periodic Table benefitted from that 'backstory'.
The book is really a series of vignettes loosely based around elements on the periodic table, apt for the authors career as a chemist. It is 'sciencey', but more than that it is human. Wow, does this author have the turn of phrase mastered! He throws together complex sentences that don't sound pretentious, outlines peoples poor behaviour without being judgement, and notices things and is able to describe them in such lucid detail that you want to read passages again and again. I highly recommend this one. ( )
  LovingLit | Mar 19, 2018 |
One of the best books I have ever read. ( )
  kerryp | Nov 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Levi, Primoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
De Matteis-Vogels, FridaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riu, XavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenthal, RaymondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roth, PhillipIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There are the so-called inert gases in the air we breathe.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Azoto, carbonio, idrogeno, oro, arsenico... Sono ventuno gli elementi chimici che dànno il titolo ai racconti di questo libro, e ventuno i capitoli di un'autobiografia che per affinità e accostamenti corre sul filo di una storia personale e collettiva, affondando le radici nell'oscura qualità della materia, raccontando le storie di un mestiere «che è poi un caso particolare, una versione piú strenua del mestiere di vivere». È questo il gigantesco minuscolo gioco che lega osservazione, memoria, scrittura: ne esce ricostruita la vicenda di una formazione maturata negli anni del fascismo, poi nelle drammatiche vicende della guerra: di chi, partendo dalla concretezza del lavoro, impara a capire le cose e gli uomini, a prendere posizione, a misurarsi con ironia e autoironia. Un De rerum natura metafora dell'esistenza, in cui emergono, nel volgersi del racconto, stranezze, fallimenti e riuscite imprevedibili.
(piopas)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805210415, Paperback)

Writer Primo Levi (1919-1987), an Italian Jew, did not come to the wide attention of the English-reading audience until the last years of his life. A survivor of the Holocaust and imprisonment in Auschwitz, Levi is considered to be one of the century's most compelling voices, and The Periodic Table is his most famous book. Springboarding from his training as a chemist, Levi uses the elements as metaphors to create a cycle of linked, somewhat autobiographical tales, including stories of the Piedmontese Jewish community he came from, and of his response to the Holocaust.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:07 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Primo Levi's memoir of his Jewish family, life as a Jew, and being a chemist.

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141185147, 0141399449, 0241956811

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