Primo Levi

Primo Levi

Primo Levi was born 100 years ago today (31st July 1919). He was an Italian Jewish chemist, writer and Holocaust survivor.

He wrote If This Is a Man (1947) and The Truce (1963) about his time in Auschwitz and his journey home.

The Periodic Table (1975) is a collection of autobiographical short stories. Each story is named after a chemical element which played some part in his life – argon, hydrogen, zinc, and so on.

Tim Radford writes in Nature:

In The Periodic Table, Primo Levi — scientist, poet, writer — makes chemistry a metaphor for his life. But it becomes more than that. Chemistry shapes his life, defines his life, in Auschwitz even saves his life. It becomes his living. In the end, chemistry becomes everything: life itself.