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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 John Gross, New York Times, November 29, 1984

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

●     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

●      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 Leviby 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 profileof 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

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

●      The Elements Revealed: An Interactive Periodic Table at Scientific American