Literature and Science

Science and literature are two tightly interwoven aspects in the works of Primo Levi. In this section there are several entries in this regard taken from scientific journals.

«When Raymond Queneau meets Primo Levi. A study is made about many appearances of chemistry in poems and books by Raymond Queneau (1903-1976). Some similarities with the works of Primo Levi (1919-1987) are pointed, mainly concerning the periodic table of elements and polymer synthesis».

J-C. Bollinger, "Quand Raymond Queneau rencontre Primo Levi", L'actualité chimique, CCCXI, 2007, pp. 53-57

«"Poetry and science" at first suggests poems about science, but it can also help us to look at science from a different angle. […] In Levi's case his life was irretrievably skewed by the War and his deportation to Auschwitz. Surviving and returning to the chaos of postwar Italy, Levi renounced any hopes of a career in research and instead became a skilful industrial chemist and ultimately a great writer. But he kept up an interest in pure science, especially biology, and wrote many beautiful short essays on it. Anyone who feels the passion Levi felt as a boy has three choices: to be a scientist; to write; or to paint. These are three ways of apprehending the material world and it is rare to find all three modes in one person».

P. Forbes,  "Poetry and Science: Greatness in Little", Nature, CDXXXIV, 2005, pp. 320-3

«Levi, an Italian, is probably best known for his books chronicling his experience during World War II as an inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Indeed, he became a symbol of stubborn integrity and hope in the face of the worst that humanity has to offer an image that was shaken somewhat by his suicide in 1987.
But in the years just before and since his death, we have come to know another Levi: the scientist-writer who spoke across the gap between the two cultures; the chemist by training who belonged to what he called that "austere generation of humanists who still insist on wanting to understand the world around them"».

W. Warner, "The Golem and the Computer", Technology Review, XCIII, 1990, 3, p. 77.

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