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This is an extraordinary kind of autobiography in which each of the 21 chapters takes its title and its starting-point from one of the elements in the periodic table. Mingling fact and fiction, science and personal record, history and anecdote, Levi uses his training as an industrial chemist and the terrible years he spent as a prisoner in Auschwitz to illuminate the human condition. Yet this exquisitely lucid text is also humourous and even witty in a way possible only to one who has looked into the abyss.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781857152180
ISBN-10: 1857152182
Format: Hardback
(212mm x 21mm x 132mm)
Pages: 242
Imprint: Everyman's Library
Publisher: Everyman
Publish Date: 21-Sep-1995
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Published in Italian in 1975, first published in English in 1984, this brilliant volume of personal, social and political autobiography consists of 21 chapters, each named after a chemical element. Primo Levi (1919-87) intersperses scenes from his life with essays, fables and dream-like sequences. The Periodic Table conforms to the plan of a born writer who was also born more human than most beings are. As an industrial chemist in Fascist Italy, Levi joined a Partisan group. After his capture by Nazi militia, he was sent to work at a chemical plant in Auschwitz and survived. That a man can emerge from Auschwitz and then analyse the phenomenon with art and wisdom is wonderful. But after that, if he can still find it in himself to write about other things - love, science, and the 'nobility of man' - as Levi does here, it's genius. (Kirkus UK)


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