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The Periodic Table Book Review Summary

Detailed Plot Synopsis of The Periodic Table

Primo Levi, the Italian chemist who was taken to Auschwitz at the age of 24, presents a kind of literary autobiography of a chemist. Each chapter is named for a chemical element -- from Nickel to Titanium; from Hydrogen, Gold, and Sulfur to Vanadium and Arsenic. Sometimes the chapter involves an incident with that particular element at its center, sometimes the element serves more as a metaphor for the action. We learn about detective hunts in the lab, and eccentric characters who were obsessed with a particular metal or gas, and there are even a couple of fables Levi obviously made up. There is very little of the war or the Holocaust in this book, which ranges throughout his professional life as a scientist and writer. It's a charming and thoughtful piece of work.
This report prepared by David Loftus








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Chapter Analysis of The Periodic Table

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Plot & Themes

job/profession:    -   scientist/inventor Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   scientist Nationality    -   Italian

Setting

Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   Italy    -   Poland Mountains/Cliffs    -   Yes Mountains:    -   climbing on trails Misc setting    -   prison    -   scientific labs Century:    -   1930's-1950's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful Pictures/Illustrations?    -   None How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Primo Levi Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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