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The Periodic Table (Everyman's Library Classics) Hardcover – 21 Sep 1995

4.4 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman; New Ed edition (21 Sept. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857152182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857152180
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 13.2 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 256,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

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. Taking the knowledge he gained 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"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

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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 April 2017
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Primo Levi’s 1975 book is a joy to read, taking as it does certain elements from the periodic table and creating tales around them. Apart from two actual short stories here the rest of the pieces are autobiographical, and so we have incidents and anecdotes from the life of the author.

Voted as the best science book ever written in I believe 2006 by the Royal Institution, it may seem slightly weird that this could be classified as such, although when you think about it without chemical reactions there would be no us, and the planet would be just another dead rock orbiting the sun. So what we end up with here is a series of pieces that do have direct bearings on the headings, or sometimes in a more allegorical or prosaic way.

We thus follow Levi through this as he gives us a piece about his family history and name changes, to growing up, living under Fascist rule and working, onto his partisan activities and incarceration, and then life after the war as Europe started to rebuild itself.

There is some wry humour here and at times it pays to look at the translator’s footnotes as some items here are wordplays on names which obviously you will miss reading this in English. Making for an enjoyable and thoughtful read this is something that can give you a lot to ponder upon and shows up life as it is, rather than something seen through rose tinted glasses.
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This is the second book I read after 'If this is a man' and 'The Truce' (and I would recommend reading them in that order). I love Levi's writing style - detached but not unemotional. This book is a somewhat strange mix - mostly autobiographical but with some fictional short stories in the middle - but you can't help but feel involved. I even started getting interested in Levi's work, which, given that I know nothing about chemistry whatsoever, can only be put down to his fantastic writing! The penultimate chapter where he accidentally comes into contact with a former chemist from Auschwitz is incredibly gripping. I can't wait to read more.
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An excellent book as enjoyable to the non-chemist as to the chemist and almost as good in English as it is in Italian. It gives an insight into the life lived by an Italian Jew during WW2 in a forthright and entertaining way.
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Thank you for the book it's my brother's favorite book and it was in great condition thank you so very much again kindest regards Patricia Thompson
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A very human memoir brilliantly weaving selected elements into the author's stories and those of his relatives, friends and acquaintances. A work of art by a professional chemist masterfully written with an exceptional understanding of humanity and the role of chemistry in our lives.
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good product and service
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Another excellent promo Levi book
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Perhaps as a scientist I should not have read this; I was expecting more than I got. Perhaps I should not have read this straight after 'If This is a Man' and 'The Truce'; these first were truly great reading. This book is similarly enjoyable but only in parts. It may be fashionable for readers to affect a complete ignorance of the sciences, the only excuse for calling this a science book, but to consider it thus is preposterous. It is a book by a scientist but it's not about science. If anything I found the links to chemical elements to be tenuous and contrived. It is a book of short stories, fact and fiction. As a biological scientist I might think that some people or circumstances resemble tissues and organs; the body-builder would be muscle, the sculptor would be hands, the thinker would be brain, the vain would be skin, etc. If I wrote such a collection of short stories it would no more be a treatise on the human body that Levi's 'Periodic Table' is a book about chemistry. I am afraid this irritated me to the extent that it overpowered much of the enjoyment I might have had from reading this book.
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