The Periodic Table Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews 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.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

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


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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