Top positive review
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Well Worth Reading
on 23 April 2017
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.