Primo Levi

Discover the captivating world of Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table. This unique book is filled with twenty-one short stories, each named after an element and rooted in the author’s own experiences. These stories may be ordered chronologically, but don’t be mistaken – they are not meant to be an autobiography.

The connection between the stories and their element names can sometimes be metaphorical, reflecting personal characteristics or historical references. However, as Levi himself was a chemist, the underlying theme throughout the book is the essence of chemistry and the struggle with matter. The bond between the stories and the elements is often immediate and tangible, providing a compelling narrative.

From Levi’s student experiments in “Potassium” and “Hydrogen”, to the daring theft of cerium in Auschwitz in “Cerium”, and the post-war encounter with a German scientist in “Vanadium”, each story offers a unique glimpse into the world of chemistry. Stories like “Arsenic”, “Nitrogen”, and “Tin” explore the adventures of a freelance chemical consultant, while “Chromium” and “Silver” dive into the realm of industrial detective tales, where chemical problems are cleverly solved. And don’t forget “Carbon”, a fascinating journey tracing the life of a carbon atom across the globe.

Immerse yourself in the sheer brilliance of Levi’s writing with this elegant edition from Everyman’s Library. The Periodic Table provides essential context for newcomers to Primo Levi’s extraordinary world.