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    Biglietto di ringraziamento scritto da Primo Levi al prof. Boido di Genova. Per gentile concessione del prof. Boido.

    L'interesse per l'opera di Primo Levi risulta evidente anche dal numero delle recensioni dei suoi libri, e in particolare de Il Sistema Periodico, apparse su riviste scientifiche e scritte da personaggi legati al mondo della scienza. Lo stesso Primo Levi rimase positivamente colpito da una tale attenzione, come testimonia la breve lettera di ringraziamento scritta nel novembre del 1986 al Prof. Vito Boido dell'Università di Genova. Di seguito proponiamo i riferimenti alle recensioni più significative trovate sinora.


    A. H. Hoveyda,  Primo Levi's «The periodic table». A Search for Patterns in Times Past, «Angewandte Chemie-International Edition», XLIII, 2004, pp. 6592-94

    «Yet it is likely that Primo Levi will be remembered as a singularly influential chemist of the twentieth century. A survivor of the world of concentration camps, Levi was trained as a chemist but is admired as a writer and an artist. Levi did not write because he felt that his life would be the stuff of drama that satisfies common curiosities. It was not a wooly relative, a wild whim, or a wily editor, tongue stained with tribal praise that urged him to author books. Writing for Levi was not a distraction from the everyday life — it was life itself. […] Levi's writing encourages us to search the world in our own way and in our own time. It inspires us to see nature through our eyes, to try and take pleasure in solving her puzzles, anagrams and acrostics. Levi examined — voraciously — ideas, symbols, peoples, eras and kingdoms, songs, anecdotes, mirrored images, revelations, wonders, ruses, incredible tales, endless sufferings. The Periodic Table invites us to travel the road that, however long and arduous, may be the only means through which we might catch a glimpse of the flicker of light that shines from the depth of a dark abyss. It is an infinite number of small steps, each taken by an instance of recognition that leads us towards the bottom of this unfathomable darkness. Perhaps, it is there that rests the answer to the meaning of it all».



    F. Vella, «The Periodic Table», «Biochemical Education», XVI, 1, gennaio 1988, p 54

    «This book has won at least three literary awards in the USA and has received wide acclaim. Those who read it will be greatly rewarded by its originality, insights, humor, and wisdom. Each piece reflects, in almost poetic prose, the disciplined mastery of a distinguished analyst (not only in the chemical sense, but also in that of student of human nature) and literary magician».


    W. M. Jr. Watson, Chemistry, «Science Books & Films», XXI, 5, maggio-giugno 1986, p. 305

    «Levi's book makes fine reading for every student who has chosen chemistry as a career. Here is philosophical literature fitted to the mind bent on science».


    G. B. Kauffman,  Autobiographical Writings, «Isis», LXXVII, 2, giugno 1986, pp. 330-32

    «As a chemist and as a Jew, I looked forward to reading this book, first published in Italy as II Sistema Periodico in 1975, with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. Its author, a writer, chemist, and concentration camp survivor (Auschwitz No. 174517), born in Turin in 1919, is the recipient of numerous literary prizes and is regarded in his native Italy as one of the most important and gifted men of letters of this century. The first book of Levi's to be translated into English in almost two decades, it had received rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. I am pleased to report that the volume fulfilled my most extravagant expectations».



    P.J. Farago, Periodic Table. Love in a cold climate, «Chemistry in Britain», dicembre1985, p. 1056.

    «"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there". Indeed it is. Nickel extraction from the wastes of an asbestos mine, fascists and partisans, Auschwitz, misspelt beta-naphthylamine, make strange bedfellows for Anglo-Saxon eyes. No wonder Primo Levi's book The Periodic Table was turned down by 27 English publishers before it appeared to soaring reviews in the US and subsequently in England».


    F. Dainton,  Poetic Periodic Prose, «New Scientist», CVIII, 1485, dicembre 1985, p. 54

    «Each Chapter (and element) resonates with some feature of the human condition. It is allusive and metaphotical, yet crystal clear in meaning and always re-affirmative, often subtly and tangentially, of those values essential to a civilised society. Nominally it is prose; in actuality it is narrative poem of magical quality».


    G. Rhodes, «The Periodic Table», by Primo Levi, «Journal of Chemical Education», LXII, 11, , novembre 1985, pp. A301-2

    «Levi's story Carbon is a poetic fantasy about the life of a single carbon atom. The story is filled with images that animate the chemist's world. To a chemist, the molecular world is real, and the invisible events that power the world around us may escape our vision, but they do not escape our notice. This imaginary world is busy beneath what we see, giving substances their colors, tastes, smells, shapes, and capacities for change».


    W. Gratzer, The Base and the Noble, «Nature», CCCXVII, 24 ottobre 1985, p. 677

    «Each chapter in The Periodic Table bears the name of an element, serving sometimes to evoke its ancient symbolism and sometimes to recall an episode in author's life. For Primo Levi was a journeyman chemist, a professional with a robust pride in his calling. Chief among the several fictional interludes in his book is a powerful fable about travelling lead smelter, who explores the ancien Mediterranean in serch of deposits, proud of his arcane craft and careless of the early death from plumbism that he knows will claim him, as it did forbears».


    R. M. Baum,  A Chemist Meditates on His Life and Craft, «Chemical & Engineering News», 20 marzo 1985, pp. 58-59

    «The Periodic Table is written for nonchemists, but chemists, I think, will find in it a richness that non chemists will miss: in Levi and his struggles with matter, every chemist will recognize at least a little portion of him or herself. [...] Levi's is a voice chemists should celebrate because he brings a deep humanity to our often arid science. Read The Periodic Table».


    S. E. Luria, Themes beyond Chemistry, «Science», CCXXVIII, 4695, 5 aprile 1985, pp. 66-67

    «The author of this book a series of essays each named after a chemical element is an organic chemist. The book, however, is not about chemistry but about the personal and emotional development of the author. [...] The present book is again a terse, low- key, but intensely serious document of life under stress either the stress of a youth curbed by fascism or the stress of a chemist struggling with stubbornly defective reagents. The names of chemical elements are used sometimes as metaphors, sometimes more literally to provide occasions for sharp vignettes of the author's early life».


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