Primo Levi: The Periodic Table

(Memoir, 233 pp. Italian, 1975; English translation, 1984)

A complex and beautifully rendered memoir by the author of Survival in Auschwitz.  A chemist by profession, Levi uses the elements as a frame for stories of his childhood in the Jewish community of Turin, his work with the Partisans, and some extraordinary experiences after the War.

Download the Jewish Community Library's Guide to The Periodic Table with Discussion Questions


The Periodic Table Reviews and Articles

      Review by Ellen Phiddian, in RiAus: Australia’s National Science Channel, December 29, 2015

      Review by John Gross, New York Times, November 29, 1984

      Review by Alvin H. Rosenfield, New York Times, December 23, 1984

      Review by Peter Forbes, The Independent, November 6, 2009

      Review by Charles Forgy in The Quantum Chymist

      Article by Ian Thomson, The Independent, April 7, 2012


Essays on Individual Stories in The Periodic Table

      Primo Levi, Linguist  by George Jochnowitz (CUNY) (focuses on “Argon”)

      Margot Singer (Denison University) on Relics, Alchemy, and Primo Levi’s “Chromium” in Essay Daily, May 20, 2013

      Audio lecture by Al Filreis (University of Pennsylvania) on “Iron” and “Carbon”

      Video presentation by Al Filreis (University of Pennsylvania) on “Iron”

      Primo Levi’s “Small Differences” and the Art of The Periodic Table: A Reading of “Potassium” by Murray Baumgarten (UC Santa Cruz)

      Primo Levi's 'Carbon' performed in dance by the Chitraleka Dance Company

 

Primo Levi and Science

      Calls for New Chemical Element to be Dedicated to Primo Levi in La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, January 15, 2016

      Building with Light: Primo Levi, Science, and Writing by Nick Lane

      Primo Levi’s Periodic System by Peter Hodder (Chemistry in New Zealand, April 2013)

      Article by Tim Radford, The Guardian, October 8, 2009

      The Periodic Table named the best science book everThe Guardian, October 21, 2006

 

Selected Articles on Primo Levi

     The Prophecy of Primo Levi by Joel Bellman, The Jewish Journal, April 27, 2016

     Free, but Not Redeemed: Primo Levi and the Enigma of Survival by James Marcus, Harper's, December 9, 2015

     A Celebration of Primo Levi by Matt Hanson in BooksWorld, November 19, 2015

     Taking the Full Measure of Primo Levi by Jerome Chanes in Jewish Week, November 18, 2015

     Online video of tribute to Primo Levi at the JCCSF, November 2, 2015

      How the Nazis Accidentally Turned Primo Levi into a Philosopher and a Much-loved Author by Robert Fulford, The National Post, October 26, 2015

       'Collected Works' Makes Case for Primo Levi's Singular Art by John Timpane, The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 4, 2015

      The Art of Witness: How Primo Levi Survived by James Wood, The New Yorker, September 20, 2015

      Primo Levi's Suicide Haunts His Lasting Work by Adam Kirsch, Tablet, September 21, 2015

      ‘The Complete Works of Primo Levi’: A Literary Treasury on Humanity by Michael Dirda, The Washington Post , September 23, 2015

      Primo Levi's Defiant Humanism by Toni Morrison, The Guardian, September 5, 2015

      In Memory of Primo Levi by Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times, January 27, 2015

      Great Lives: Primo Levi with Edmund de Waal and Ian Thomson, BBC 4 Radio, May 21, 2013

      Primo Levi: A Catalyst for Genius by Ian Thomson, The Guardian, September 15, 2000

      Primo Levi's Last Moments by Diego Gambetta, Boston Review, June 1, 1999

      Gabriel Motola interviews Primo Levi, The Paris Review, Spring 1995

      Obituary by John Tagliabue, New York Times, April 12, 1987

      Video profile of Primo Levi (4 min.)


Selected Essays and Resources on the Periodic Table of Elements

      My Periodic Table by Oliver Sacks, New York Times, July 24, 2015

      The University of Nottingham has created an entertaining video for each element at periodicvideos.com

      Science Friday's Artistic Elements programs include Paint Pigments and the Periodic Table and Photography and the Periodic Table

      Tom Lehrer sings the Periodic Table, as does, if you prefer, Harry Potter

      The Elements Revealed: An Interactive Periodic Table at Scientific American