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Периодичната система

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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  8,957 ratings  ·  719 reviews
Периодичната система (1975) е сред най-четените и най-необикновените италиански книги – неин автор е химикът Примо Леви (1919–1987), един от най-проницателните мислители на ХХ в., преминал през ада на Аушвиц (сред неговите произведения е и жалонната за световната култура "Нима това е човек"). В Периодичната система нищо не е излишно, всичко е есенциално”, както отбелязва С ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published February 7th 2016 by Janet 45 (first published 1975)
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Darkemeralds Well, it's not a book for everyone. I loved it--I was surprised by how much I loved it, in fact--but I think it's because I approached it a certain…moreWell, it's not a book for everyone. I loved it--I was surprised by how much I loved it, in fact--but I think it's because I approached it a certain way.

First, there IS a narrative structure, but it's very subtle. It's the life story of a man who survived the concentration camps of World War II, and I think it helps to know that going in.

Second, I found I could appreciate it just on the level of purely beautiful writing (and translation). The lightness and leanness of his prose and the freedom he felt in constructing his autobiography in this peculiar series of essays--it's clever, but it's more than that. It doesn't alienate the reader who is non-clever (at least, it didn't alienate me) because each little story is a story.

Third, each little story IS a story. I didn't struggle super hard to make big overarching sense of the whole thing. I found lots of humor and irony, even in the sections where he's actually in the concentration camp.

Finally, the book came recommended by someone who said she re-read parts of it over and over again--returned to it a lot--so I knew it was something I wouldn't fully absorb in a single reading. I was aware of taking only a fraction of it away with me in a first reading. I let myself be satisfied with the tiny bit I did "get", and it wouldn't surprise me if I opened the book back up again randomly from time to time. I had a favorite chapter, "Iron", which I found very moving, and which I felt I understood clearly.

Oh, and it helped me a lot to read portions of it aloud. Maybe that's just me. My attention span is terrible, and I find that reading aloud helps me focus, especially when the prose is so beautiful.

I don't know if this helps you, but writing it helped me! I'm glad you asked.(less)

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Petra Eggs
In an interweaving between the elements and stories, Primo Levi tells his life. But he chooses episodes to relate carefully and never discusses his children. At the end he tells us, that his writing was only ""partial and symbolic". The man who wrote so much and so tellingly of Auschwitz in If This Is a Man remains a mystery.

The greatest mystery of all, to me, was his death. At 67 he fell over the balustrade of the stairs down from the 3rd floor of the house he'd lived in all his life (except wh
...more
Jim Fonseca
Each chapter is named for an element; some chapters are autobiographical, some are essays, some are vignettes of people he knew and their careers in chemistry; two are short stories about metal prospecting and mining with hints of fantasy. Most are autobiographical and through these we learn a bit of his childhood; his boyish fascination with chemistry experiments which grew into his college education and career as a chemist; his puppy loves and courtship and his imprisonment in a labor camp dur ...more
Rachel
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
You know how you read a sentence and copy it down because it's so good? In this book, I'd find a sentence, and go to copy it and realize it relied on the one before it, which relied on the one before that for its complete meaning. So I'd copy down whole paragraphs, whole pages, because Primo writes in integrated, seamless blocks of meaning. Which is enviable.

Other than that, I want to give Primo a big kiss, buy him a beer, and ride bikes with him in Italy.
Paul Bryant

Every suicide is like a nail bomb full of vicious questions and the questions don’t care where they land. Why didn’t somebody do something? – there’s one. Surely there must have been signs. Right there is a triple blow delivered to the bereaved partner and immediate family. They’re reeling from the event, then they have to conclude this depression, this malaise, was so acute it blotted out even thoughts of themselves in the suicide’s final minutes. And after that comes the unspoken accusations a
...more
Ted
There are so-called inert gases in the air we breathe. They bear curious Greek names of erudite derivation which mean "the New", "the Hidden", "the Inactive", and "the Alien".


Thus begins Primo Levi's book of a score or so mini-memoirs. Each of these is named for one of the elements, thus the name of the book. The elements used are in no particular order – not alphabetical, not by atomic number (the ordering of elements in the periodic table). They range from Argon (the first chapter) to Carbon (
...more
Kinga
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chemistry as a metaphor for life. Blurb writers love phrases like that. They are short, succinct and intriguing. But how hard is it to write something that would deliver on such a promise?
I had never read anything quite like ‘The Periodic Table’. It more than delivered – it exceeded my expectations. The book is a beautiful marriage of life and science, perfectly accessible to a regular reader. The truth is that anything can be fascinating provided it’s explained by a person truly passionate abou
...more
Marica
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiani, s-m, ebraismo
Un po' di chimica e tutta la vita
E' una autobiografia per elementi chimici -parziale – perchè di elementi ce ne sono solo una ventina e Primo Levi parla solo di sé, lasciando fuori doverosamente i congiunti: ma elargendo storie sugli antenati, dei quali fa quadretti molto spassosi, un po' irriverenti (I gas nobili). Unica eccezione alla sua discrezione, una giovane collega della quale era innamorato da neolaureato e che portava in bici a raggiungere il fidanzato, lei presente con nome e cognome
...more
Steven Godin
I have to admit as I spent most of my science and chemistry lessons staring out the window daydreaming my knowledge of the Periodic Table sucks, Primo Levi has now changed all that. Using each element to fascinating effect in his own experiences, from the classrooms and studies of his youth through fascist Italy to his capture by the Nazi's and ultimate test of the human spirit to rally and remain mentally strong to survive to tell of the aftermath also. The linking of stories to eponymous eleme ...more
Neva
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: translated-by-me
Сам на себе си сладкодумен Бокачо. Двайсет и един разказа с имена на химични елементи, които звучат много различно, нищо че са автобиографични. "Декамерон", в който правенето на любов е правене на химия, а чумата е фашистката напаст (но не само едното и не само другото). Не знам колко точно вещ е Примо Леви в литературната материя и не знам дали някой някога ще го цитира пред друг, за да впечатли и остави без дъх този друг, но знам следното: той е един от най-големите италиански и европейски авт ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
The Connotations of the Elements

All elements have been named in a more or less arbitrary manner: after people, places or mythological characters.

To those who named them, if not necessarily us, these names had metaphorical connotations. For non-scientists, this significance might be lost in the scientific haze that befuddles us.

One achievement of Primo Levi's novel is to revive the power of the metaphors.

Each element he has chosen represents a person, an experience or a story. Each chapter name
...more
Edward
This was a pleasant surprise: not at all the mournful account I had expected. The Periodic Table is Levi’s autobiography told thorough his work; an expression of his love for the chemists’ art and trade, and though the war and holocaust (being inseparable from his life) are part of the story, they not central to it (he wrote about these in more detail in other books, which I have not yet read).

I enjoyed Levi’s light, enthusiastic tone, his intimacy and passion, and the stories themselves, which
...more
Roberto
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, italia

Il fascino della chimica e delle sue metafore

Primo Levi iniziò la sua carriera lavorativa dopo la laurea in chimica conseguita nel 1941. Era una persona razionale, concreta, dotata di un approccio e un pensiero lineare che influenzerà successivamente la sua scrittura, iniziata dopo l'esperienza del campo di concentramento.

Un chimico, quindi, prima di tutto.

Che nel 1975, per raccontare gli episodi più interessanti della propria vita, decise di scrivere una serie di ventuno racconti intitolandoli
...more
Bettie☯
Janet Suzman introduces a major new dramatization of Primo Levi's stories about our human relationship with the chemical elements that make up our universe - a book the Royal Institution of Great Britain named 'the best science book ever'. She begins with a short feature about Levi's life and writing, featuring archive interviews with Levi himself.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07kp709



Episode 1/11: Vanadium: In the course of his work as a chemist in a paint factory in the 1960s, Primo Levi rec
...more
David
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chemistry, memoirs
This is a book of memoirs by Italian chemist, Primo Levi. On one level, the book is an autobiography. Each chapter has the name of an element of the periodic table, and the chapter relates some episode in Levi's life that has some relationship to that element.

On another level, the book is about the tragedy of the Holocaust. Primo Levi and his fellow chemists lived through the beginning of the war by pushing the war out of their minds. They saw the war for what it was; they had a fateful attitude
...more
Parthiban Sekar
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“In order for the wheel to turn, for life to be lived, impurities are needed, and the impurities of impurities in the soil, too, as is known, if it is to be fertile. Dissension, diversity, the grain of salt and mustard are needed: Fascism does not want them, forbids them, and that’s why you’re not a Fascist; it wants everybody to be the same, and you are not. But immaculate virtue does not exist either, or if it exists it is detestable.”
Giovanna
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Certo, che avrei cercato l'oro […] per ritrovare il mio mestiere chimico nella sua forma essenziale e primordiale, la «Scheidekunst», appunto, l'arte di separare il metallo dalla ganga.

Questa per Primo Levi è l'essenza del mestiere di chimico: separare il metallo dalla ganga. Si potrebbe dire che il compito dello scrittore è lo stesso, e cioè vagliare il caos (la ganga) del vissuto per dargli una forma coerente e tirarne fuori quanto vi si trova di valido (il metallo). Non a caso, Saul Bellow, c
...more
Ammara Abid
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ingenious Write-up. Simply remarkable!
Giò
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La tavola di Mendeleev per comprendere noi stessi e l'universo

La chimica con tutta la sua magia, raccontata attraverso episodi e frammenti della vita di Levi. O forse dovrei dire il contrario: la vita di Levi (o buona parte di essa) raccontata attraverso la chimica. Non so, ma il risultato è uno delle più belle raccolte di racconti e contemporanemente una delle migliori autobiografie mai lette. Tra tutti il racconto più toccante è certamente Ferro con quei ricordi struggenti dell'amicizia con Sa
...more
Greta
 photo 8E6876C3-8DC8-4060-B69A-5D07DD6E5A6E.jpg

The Periodic Table consists of 21 stories and each story refers to one of the 21 chemical elements.
Chemistry was vital in Primo Levi's life. He not only worked as a chemist before and after the war, but it probably also saved him in Auschwitz, where he was selected for work in a laboratory.
Chemistry also gave him security, in a world in which he felt himself insecure.

The stories give an insight in Primo Levi's life history and in his work as a chemist. There are also a couple of fictional st
...more
Jessica
Finally, an argument in favor of being forced to read books! I hated the beginning of this and fell asleep twice during the first chapter, so I never would've kept on going if I hadn't had to for school. But The Periodic Table got progressively better then finally peaked at the end, as is my personal preference for books. I cried for like twenty minutes after I finished this, though I'm not sure if that had to do more with Primo Levi or with my own lady hormones.

In any case, though it took me aw
...more
Emanuela
Nov 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La mia adolescenza è stata contrassegnata dallo studio della chimica. Ho avuto docenti bravi, precisi, innovativi, umani. Non posso dire altrettanto di quelli delle materie umanistiche che, ancora oggi a scuola, vedo così ottusi nei confronti delle scienze e della tecnologia.
Primo Levi è il "prof" che raccontandoci della materia le restituisce dimensione poetica in "UNA conoscenza" che non distingue tra classificazioni artificiose.
Tra tutti i brani spesso autobiografici che hanno come titolo un
...more
Кремена Михайлова
„… светът е голям и има място за всички…“

Когато излезе книгата, не проявих интерес заради химията.
Като я прочетох разбрах, че съм я харесала заради химията.

Примо Леви пише така, че и „нехимичният“ читател да бъде привлечен към света на химията. Може би чрез качественото тройно смесване на разказните „съставки“ – лична история, нещо интересно за съответния химичен елемент, запознаване с историческия контекст (особено до войната).

С нетърпение чаках и „поуката“ в повечето разкази. Вълшебни, жив
...more
Galina
Преди една седмица прочетох "Периодичната система" и си помислих "Толкова е хубава, че няма да развалям впечатленията си от нея с опити за драскане, за "обобщаване". Обикновено почтително си мълча - след заглавия, които особено много съм харесала.
Така се случи обаче, че следващата книга, която отлежава известно време и чиито ред най-после дойде, ме върна бързо към действителността на родното книгоиздаване - двадесет липсващи страници, ей така, като телепортация напред в сюжета. И понеже престъпн
...more
Gabriele
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiana, owned
Partiamo dal fondo: in appendice di questo Sistema periodico viene riportata la nota intervista che Philip Roth fece a Primo Levi non più di sette mesi prima della sua morte. In una delle domande lo scrittore americano ricorda le parole usate in "La chiave a stella" riguardo al presentarsi nella persona di Levi di "due anime": quella del chimico e quella dello scrittore, forse troppe per una sola persona, ma così "ben saldate" fra loro da non poterne vedere una netta separazione.

La separazione,
...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Bloomsbury)
Shelves: 501, holocaust, drama, stylish
Primo Levi (1919-1987) was an Italian Jewish chemist who survived Hitler's Holocaust. This is my second time to read a book by him. I read his first novel Survival in Auschwitz (3 stars) last year and I feel in love with it so that I had to make sure that I have this book and If Not Now, When?. These seem to be his trilogy of memoirs directly recalling his experiences in the concentration camps.

This book is composed of short stories and annecdotes from before, during and after his life in Auschw
...more
Joshua
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Primo Levy was a chemist, a poet, and a novelist--a man of luminous imagination and spirit, despite his forced descent into darkness as an Italian Jew during World War II. This book is a memoir, with each chapter named after an element culled from the periodic table.

In each chapter, Levy's awe for the alchemical power of the chemist shines through. But he has a poet's heart rather than a chemist's sterile exactitude. The opening chapter "Argon" describes how this element is much more common in
...more
Mehmet
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Popüler Bilim okurları, II. Dünya Savaşı, Kimya, Fizik, Holokost
Yüzyılın en iyi popüler bilim kitaplarından birisi seçilen bu kitabın popüler bilim kitabı olarak tanımlanması bence pek de doğru olmaz. Bir tür Otobiyografi olarak kitap, bir biliminsanının yaşamındaki önemli bulduğu olayları, bunlarla eşleştirdiği elementler üzerinden anlatıyor.
İkinci Dünya Savaşı adı verilen korkunç katliamın mağdurlarından birisi olarak yazar, kitabın ilk bölümünde Yahudilik, İbranice ve Kabala vurgularıyla başta biraz okuru sıksa da, ilerleyen bölümlerde okuru kendine bağla
...more
Jan
Although the ‘Periodic Table’ is recognized by the Royal Institute of Britain as ‘the best science book ever written,’ it really not a science book. It’s a memoir, it is philosophy, and it is written by gentle soul. The book arrived with high praise from Bellow, Roth, Calvino and Eco.

It came 30 years after Primo Levi’s famous ‘If This is Man’ (or 'Survival in Auschwitz’ in the US) which was written in 1946, almost immediately after his 11 months in Auschwitz. He said he wrote it because he had a
...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
From the Concluding Section of the Book:

"The reader, at this point, will have realized for some time now that this is not a chemical treatise: my presumption does not reach so far - 'ma voix est foible, et meme un peu profane.' Nor is it an autobiography, save in the partial and symbolic limits in which every piece of writing is autobiographical, indeed every human work; but it is in some fashion a history. It is - or would have liked to be - a micro-history......"

The point is made very clear by
...more
Markus
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LE SYSTEME PERIODIQUE
By Primo Levi

The twenty-one chapters of this story, part autobiography, and partly fiction, are named after chemical elements of the Periodical Table in the world of chemistry.

Primo Levy was a Doctor in Chemistry and in this work he takes pleasure in telling a variety of short stories relating to professional adventures in his young life, as well as some witty and humorous fictional projections.

And finally some tragic memories of the time of heroic resistance to fascism, an
...more
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Primo Michele Levi (Italian: [ˈpriːmo ˈlɛːvi]) was a chemist and writer, the author of books, novels, short stories, essays, and poems. His unique 1975 work, The Periodic Table, linked to qualities of the elements, was named by the Royal Institution of Great Britain as the best science book ever written.

Levi spent eleven months imprisoned at Monowitz, one of the three main camps in the Auschwitz c
...more
“Perfection belongs to narrated events, not to those we live.” 573 likes
“This cell belongs to a brain, and it is my brain, the brain of me who is writing; and the cell in question, and within it the atom in question, is in charge of my writing, in a gigantic minuscule game which nobody has yet described. It is that which at this instant, issuing out of a labyrinthine tangle of yeses and nos, makes my hand run along a certain path on the paper, mark it with these volutes that are signs: a double snap, up and down, between two levels of energy, guides this hand of mine to impress on the paper this dot, here, this one.” 39 likes
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